Agusan Sur mayor dismantles passenger terminal syndicate

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 6 July) – Mayor Grace Carmel Paredes-Bravo has dismantled what is locally known as “bangag,” an alleged extortion activity wherein dispatchers of passenger vehicles at the terminals get from the drivers an extra 10 percent based on the fare they collected from the passengers.

San Francisco Mayor Grace Carmel Paredes-Bravo delivers a message during the Monday morning (4 July 2022) flag-raising ceremony of the local government. Photo courtesy of SB member Jing Pulvera’s official Facebook page.

The money were supposedly remitted to transport operators posing as representatives of the mayor’s office in the previous administrations.

“I feel irritated upon learning about this so I ordered to stop this kind of syndicate,” Bravo told Sangguniang Bayan (SB) members in her deliberation about her plans for the first 100 days during the municipal council’s first regular session on Monday.

According to the mayor, the “bangag” operators were supposedly given permit by the mayor of the past administrations to demand at least 10 percent of the total fares collected by dispatchers; it could even be more if the passenger vehicle has full capacity.

Reports gathered by MindaNews showed that this illicit money-making scheme had been going on during the last three local government administrations and the alleged operators had enriched themselves by up to millions of pesos.

A former SB member who chaired the committee on public market and terminal requesting anonymity disclosed that a female operator raked in at least P200,000 in monthly earnings from the extra collections.

He explained that it is called “bangag” (which translates to “hole”) in the same way that the portal of the mining tunnel is also called – because it is as if the operators found a wealth of gold with the money they were getting. The racket is sometimes called “bina” (or “vein”), a mining lingo referring to cracks in rock formations where concentration of minerals, like gold, are found.

Bravo learned that a dispatcher she knows would remit to the female operator P300 per day.

Under the mayor’s new policy, the associations of the drivers and operators would manage order at the terminals. And if they need dispatchers and barkers, it would be their responsibility to pay for the services.

So whatever they agreed upon to collect for each trip, this will go directly to the dispatchers and barkers for the services rendered, Bravo explained in an interview.

“It’s possible that collection for each trip would be lower because it would be a burden for them if they increase it,” she said. Bravo added that with the “bangag” syndicate, the drivers and the dispatchers are obliged to pay the minimum allegedly set by the mayor’s representative. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)