The S-O-O Amazing Team of Traffic Operations

By Kathleen G. Sabado

One of the new normal practices that we had adopted is cashless transactions.  Here at NLEX Corporation, we have several programs like RFID-100, which aims to have 100% RFID toll lanes on our toll plazas for quicker passages. In May 2021, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) issued the ‘Three-Strike Policy’ memo to encourage motorists to have RFIDs installed on their vehicles and load up sufficiently for seamless transactions.

Efforts were made to reduce the losses from uncollected toll fees/ leakages. The VP for Operations, West Dionisio, started out the “Special On-Site Operation” (SOO) at major plazas. Under the direct supervision of Traffic Operations Assistant Manager Ernell Yco,  Team Leaders, Patrol Officers, and Toll Personnel On-Site Assist (TPOA) worked collaboratively to flag down, remind, apprehend, issue Notice of Violation (NOV) and/or Temporary Operator’s Permit (TOP) to motorists who insist on passing through our toll plazas with insufficient/negative load balance on their Easytrip accounts or even those with no RFID sticker installed and still intend to pass through the RFID Lane.

Together with the Toll Verification Team, the SOO is also armed with a list of vehicles with unpaid balances. This is not only to flag down, remind, and apprehend but to also make them settle their balances instantly.

We interviewed the SOO Amazing Team to get their insights on the SOO:

  • TL Julius Villegas quipped that team leads “carry the ball ” during operations as they ensure that logistical requirements like body-worn cameras and documents from TRB and LTO are always complete, and that tasks are properly delegated.  TL Villegas also added that what they do is called ‘Labor of Love’ since they strongly believe that they are able to contribute to the company’s income while at the same time educating motorists.
  • TL Elibert Duran always reminds his team members to stay calm while addressing motorist concerns.  They need to listen and acknowledge first the issues presented so they could start educating them.  In this manner, we can provide effective customer service.
  • TL Roderico Pingol adds that handling irate clients professionally are being done by sticking to the procedures, following the guidelines set, and making sure every team member is well-advised. Their leader, Sir Ernell Yco, instructs and guides the team.
  • PC Patrick Lagula says that what he learned from TL Pingol is that as long as the team sticks to the guidelines set by its superiors, we cannot go wrong in handling the motorist’s concerns.  Though there are times when irate motorists would not accept initial explanation, their team leader TL Pingol is there to always back them up.
  • PC Fernando Davo shared that TL Duran or Sarge Duran, as they fondly call him, always reminds them to do their job well and not to be rattled during uneasy encounters with the motorist. Sarge Duran also reminds them to remain calm, use easy-to-understand words, and address motorists politely. 
  • PC Francis Lloyd Ramirez shared that their “Sarge” makes work easy for them because he has a cool temperament.  He says that they are reminded to not be stressed at work, and that they should always be ready to address motorists calmly. He stressed that education is the primary tool since not all motorists understand the proper use of RFIDs, and that for repeated violations, we issue tickets for them to learn their lesson.
  • PC Mervin Capalad shared that TL Pingol made him know by heart DOTr Order No. 2020-12 and LTO Memo Circular 2020-2224 as these documents are important in enforcing the two orders that require cashless or contactless transactions for all vehicles traveling on toll expressways. He said that because of that, he is able to educate the motorist regarding his obligation in handling his RFID account and if needed I also apprehend motorists with unpaid balances or no RFID sticker entering the RFID lane.
  • PC Rodel Mabunga shared that he is privileged to belong to a team that is strongly backed up by executives like Ma’am Cath Del Mundo, Sir Ernell Yco from Traffic Operations, Ma’am Pollyanna Condat, and other personnel from the Easytrip Support Team. Their leaders also listen to them and help them with issues and concerns.
  • PC Virgilio Guadalupe explained that working beside TL Pingol allowed them to enforce RA 4136 alongside the implementation of DOTr and LTO memos. With the assistance provided by MIB security personnel as our spotters and TPOA, they were also able to apprehend motorists with unpaid balances, and settle some of their balances. He shared that he strongly feels that what they do is important and beneficial to the company.
  • PC Brylle Solis shared that there are times when they encountered uncooperative and rude motorists but nonetheless, they are reminded by TL Villegas to ‘keep our shirts on’, and carry ourselves politely and properly in front of the motorist since they are equipped with the body-worn camera and papers from TRB and LTO. TL Villegas also reminds them to explain flag downs politely and offer a resolution to the problem at hand which is most often the settlement of unpaid balances.
  • PC Elmerson Gabriel said that what he learned from his team leader TL Villegas is that no task is too big or too difficult as long as you are well guided by the policies and procedures and that when we love our job, we make things possible and doable.

Though it may appear to be a tedious process, our Patrol Officers, spearheaded by our SOO Amazing Team Leaders, willingly took on this challenge to unceasingly provide excellent service to our motorists.

(Left to Right) SG Villafuerte, SG Almeyda, SG Obenia, PC Capalad, PC Mabunga, PC Bautista, PC Castillo, PC Lagula, TL Pingol, PC Sanchez, PC Espartero, PC Gamba

Kathleen G. Sabado, Traffic Operations. Khate has been with the company since 2015. She started out as a lady Patrol Crew and has been awarded for her meritorious performance by TMC/NLEX Corp. and LTO. In 2018, she joined the Traffic Investigation Section and has been recognized as the only female traffic investigator in the tollways industry by TRB.