A British bloke, Benjamin James Oates, 39, issued a public apology before media members this past Tuesday. That’s Oates in the lead photo with the horseshoe, biker, moustache reminiscent of Paul Sr. from “American Chopper.” Seated next to the apologetic limey is Bacolod Traffic Authority Office, BTAO, head Luisito Acebuche. (Lead photo credit: Panay News and AKSYON RADYO, Bacolod.)
Cited for minor traffic infraction
The Panay News reports the brit said he was sorry for writing “FCK*D BTAO” on the back of a traffic ticket issued to him last month by a Bacolod traffic enforcer.
The online newspaper reports the Brit and the traffic enforcer had an “altercation.”
Oates had been issued a citation by traffic enforcer Roilan Gulmatico around 1:50 pm on Feb. 6. After Oates handed his driver’s license, Gulmatico asked him to sign the citation ticket. Instead of putting his signature, Oates wrote “FC*K D BTAO” on the ticket.
The bloke’s traffic violation? Making a U-turn and illegally parking his vehicle along Lacson-San Sebastian Street in Bacolod.
Case goes before LTO
Illegal U-turns in our home province of Guimaras are as common as public pissers in broad daylight.
Traffic regulations on our island province are rarely enforced. Jeepneys, trikes, and private vehicles are allowed to break a myriad of traffic regulations without fear of any repercussion.
However, Oates “manned up”’ and went to the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO) on Tuesday to inform BTAO head Superintendent Luisito Acebuche that he wanted to apologize publicly.
Due to the incident, BTAO filed an administrative case against the foreigner before the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Bacolod. The BTAO asked for the revocation of Oates’ driver’s license.
However, even after the apology, Acebuche said the withdrawal of Oates’ case before the LTO will be up to Gulmatico, the traffic enforcer.
He added that the incident would be a reminder to foreigners in the city to observe local laws and regulations.
Could Oates have been targeted?
Now is it possible that Oates was targeted because he was a foreigner? I know of several expats in nearby Iloilo City that were stopped by traffic enforcers for supposed traffic violations. The foreigners had to pay a “fine” to the traffic enforcer who would then throw away their ticket.
The real lesson here is that as an expat, or foreigner, in the Philippines you may be the target of unscrupulous individuals who might shake you down for the slightest of infractions.
Look, while Oates was wrong in writing what he did on the citation, it happens.
If I was written a citation for every stupid thing I’ve said or done in the past eight years in the Philippines, the pile of tickets would be several meters thick (at least.) I’m not justifying what the expat did, I’m merely saying I understand his frustration.
Oates is married to a Filipina for about five years now. He lives in Barangay Quintin, Murcia, Negros Occidental with his wife.
Not a Bad Guy
The Negros Daily Bulletin The Bulletin reports that Oates is from Inverness, Scotland. In an earlier version of this post I doubted that the man was indeed a British citizen since he was from Scotland. I know that Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom but did not know Oates was a British citizen regardless of the fact that he was born in Scotland. He was born in the U. K. and that’s all that matters as far as British citizenship goes. Thanks to Gezel and a Brit friend in Guimaras, Keith, for clarification on that issue.
Oates said Traffic Enforcer Gulmatico reprimanded him for having violated the traffic rules. That pissed off Oates since he did not know he had violated the traffic laws. Maybe the expat had seen a myriad of jeepneys and tricycles committing the same “offense” without being written up.
Judy Jinson, Jr., president of Adiangawon Small Farmers Association in Brgy. Alangilan, and the uncle of Love Shirley Balza, Oates’ wife, said Oates is not really a bad person.
The expat had earlier aided the wife of a barangay official in Bacolod who was suffering from cancer. The official’s wife need an immediate operation in Manila.
When asked for assistance, Oates personally delivered the amount requested early morning the following day, which enabled the couple to fly to Manila for treatment. That act of kindness, Jinson said, has greatly helped the couple, and the patient is still alive today.