It was just another ordinary day and the usual ride after I booked GrabTaxi from Quezon City to Ortigas.
The ride was relatively smooth except for occasional minor bumps of traffic jams along the EDSA to Santolan highway. This has been a regular scenario though along EDSA.
I engaged in a conversation with kuya Ferdinand, who drives ACA 5762, and asked him politely about his experience as a GrabTaxi driver. He told me that he is earning well, thanks to GrabTaxi, and he prides himself with take-home money that he spent to pay for his family’s personal expenses.
It was just a casual talk, a regular thing that I do to get to familiarize with the driver. Talking to them while on the road might not be a good idea for some, but on the other hand, by talking to them, you’ll be able to check right on the spot if the driver is about to do something bad or not.
Maybe out of his instinct, kuya Ferdinand innocently asked if I write for a newspaper outlet. Maybe it’s how I talk that made him guessed that I am a writer or somewhat.
I told him that I blog and explained to him what a blogger does. I told him that bloggers like me, share articles and stories online, and we post it on Facebook as well.
That piqued his attention even more and started relating to me the number of spraying incidents reported on the Internet, supposedly by bogus taxi drivers.
Kuya Ferdinand told me that while there are possibilities of such modus operandi, he is also wary that such news could cripple a lot of driver’s opportunity to work clean. The spraying incidents took a tool that a lot of passengers are almost scared to ride taxis anymore. It’s like a stigma that passengers are getting too paranoid into thinking that many taxi drivers in town are victimizing their passengers by spraying ‘something’ to rob or assault them.
He’s concern that honest drivers like him are dragged in this incident too. “May mga nangyayare nga po sigurong ganun pero paano naman po yung impact samen mga drivers na naghahanapbuhay ng maayos?” (There might be cases that are true but what about the impact it made against us, drivers, who are really working hard and fair?) he said to me.
Our ride was almost getting near my drop off location so I suggested to him why not put his words into writing. I told him it will be an opportunity for him to share his thoughts about the spraying incidents to give light for his fellow drivers. I told him that I can share his letter on my blog, and on Facebook.
He parked his vehicle for a while along Garnet Road, and composed the letter. I’m in no hurry so I told him to take his time to write his letter.
After a few minutes, he handed me the letter and thanked me in advance for the opportunity to share his opinion regarding the spray incidents. I promised that I will include his letter on my blog in the coming days.
Below is his open letter to the public (with regards to the spraying incidents). Please read on.
“Sa mga pasahero ng GrabTaxi
Ako po so Ferdinand Hermosura, isang taxi driver sa Manila.
Bilang driver po ng taxi sa loob ng labing anim na taon at GrabTaxi po noong nagumpisa po sila dito, nakakalungkot pong makita ang mga post sa Facebook tungkol sa mga spray incident na sinisisi sa mga kapwa kong taxi driver.
Base sa karanasan ko Grab, iniisa-isa talaga nila ang bawat driver na nag-aaply sa kanila. Naniniwala ako na kung magtataxi ka man ay mas ligtas talaga dito kumpara sa iba. Marami kaming dinaanan na proseso para makapag operate sa Grab. Ultimo mga kapitbahay ko ay naiinterview para lang sa application ko.
Tungkol sa modus operandi na nag-iispray daw, hindi ko talaga makita kung paano yun mangyayari. Kung mag-spray ka man sa aircon, siguro naman pati ikaw ay makakalanghap nun. Hindi ba? Pati ang driver mahihilo.
At bilang driver ng Grab, hindi ko po maiisipang gawin yun dahil lahat ng dokumento ko ay nasa kanila. Alam nila pati ng pasahero ang pangalan ko, ang number ko pati plate number ng taxi ko. Bakit ka makikipag sapalaran? Bakit ko itatapon ang kinabukasan ko at ng aking pamilya ng ganun ganun na lamang?
Ang naiisip ko lang ngayon ay naaawa ako sa mga kapwa kong driver na napagbintangan na nagiispray daw ng pampahilo. Yung mga nakikita ko po sa Facebook syempre nakikita din ng mga tao yun ng mga tao ng Grab. Sobrang higpit po nila pagdating sa safety ng pasahero kaya pag may ganung report, suspendido po agad ang driver habang nagiimbestiga sila. Tama lang din naman po yun dahil safety talaga ang pinaka importante pero paano naman ang mga driver na inosente naman at napagbintangan lang?
Kapag nasususpende ang driver, hindi sila makakabiyahe. Ibig sabihin, wala silang kita. Kung sa akin yun nangyari, poproblemahin ko na naman ang pamilya ko kaya kawawa talaga ako.
Kung nababasa niyo po ito, gusto ko lang po maiparating sa inyo na sana’y maging mapanuri po tayo sa mga impormasyong pinapakalat natin.
Siguro po kung may reklamo tayo, lumapit po tayo sa awtoridad para maidaan ito sa tamang proseso.
“To all the passengers of GrabTaxi
I am Ferdinand Hermosura, taxi driver in Manila.
Being a taxi driver for almost sixteen years and for GrabTaxi since they started here, it makes me sad to see the posts on Facebook about the spray incidents and blaming my fellow taxi drivers.
In my experience with Grab, they really examine each applicants thoroughly. I believe that it’s really much safer to book a ride with them compared to other taxi. We went into different process just to operate with Grab. Even my neighbors were interviewed for my application.
In regards to the modus operandi of spraying, I cannot really understand how it happens. If you’re spraying (chemicals) in an aircon (inside the taxi), it’s possible that even you can inhale it. Right? Even the driver will get dizzy.
As a driver for Grab, I cannot even think of doing that because all my documents are with them. They know, even the passengers, my name, my number, and even the plate number of the taxi I’m driving. Why will I take that risk? Why will I throw away my future and my family’s, for that?
I pity my fellow drivers who were suspected of spraying chemicals that causes dizziness (to the passengers). All those Facebook posts that I see, are also seen by other people and the management of Grab. They are very strict when it comes to the safety of the passengers and whenever there are reports like that, they immediately suspend the drivers while they investigate the incident. It’s also the right thing to do because we emphasize on safety but what about the driver who got suspended and was innocently blamed for that?
When a driver gets suspended, he cannot report for duty. That means no income for him. If that happens to me, it will be a burden for my family and I will be pity for myself.
If you’re reading this, I just want to make an appeal to all of us to be careful with the information that we share.
I guess if we have complaints, let’s report it to the authority for proper processing (of complaints).
Case in point. His intention is not only for the good sake of his fellow drivers but for the safety of their passengers, as well.
Here are our tips to avoid getting victimized of the spray modus operandi
- Be alert but not paranoid
- Share your ride to your close friends and family by sending them private message through your social media accounts
- Screenshot the booking confirmation, the ride in progress, and the profile of the driver
- If you sense something is weird or wrong, ask the driver to drop you off immediately
- For your protection, wear a face masks if you smell something unusual
- Immediately report the driver to GrabTaxi’s customer service representative
- Think before you post
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