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Traffic Enforcement in Davao

Here in Davao you have different agencies to enforce the laws. There is the PNP, Philippine National Police, then there is the Davao City Police. There is also part of the military Task Force Davao.

For traffic there is LTO, Land Traffic Office and the TMC, Traffic Management Center.

LTO has a lot of jurisdiction concerning traffic enforcement, but from my observations they are usually out checking drivers licenses and public transportation vehicles.

You will see TMC officers at many traffic intersections directing traffic. Even if there is a traffic light you will usually see a man in a green uniform directing traffic and trying to keep it moving.

Unfortunately or maybe fortunately  TMC offices have no vehicles. So if your not at an intersection, there is no rules or penalties for driving infractions. Cars will make turns from the wrong lane, drive on incoming traffic lanes or just drive crazy as is mostly the rule here.

If you do get stopped and receive a ticket, your drivers license will be surrendered to the officer and then you have to go to the LTO office and spend a good part of the day to pay your fine and get your license back. If the infraction is bad, or if you were in an accident, you might have to go to one or more seminars giving at LTO.

I have only heard this recently, and cannot find documented proof, but what I heard was the Mayor has removed the ability of TMC officers to give traffic citations. If this is true, there will be more crazy driving since there is few out there able to enforce the traffic laws.

11 Responses to “Traffic Enforcement in Davao”

  1. Steve Baker says:

    Bruce, I think I’ll stick to the Jeepneys and Taxi’s if possible.

    • Bruce says:

      Taxis and Jeepneys are fine for transportation. They are plentiful, you just need to learn the Jeepney routes. Driving a car is not too hard as long as you learn where to be aggressive and where not. The point is there is no real traffic enforcement here.

  2. Riza says:

    This is one of the impression that my former foreign trainors would always tell us, “don’t you have any traffic rules?” There’s also this Korean student of mine that had to be stopped by some traffic police officer only to be asked for money. Another Australian trainor’s taxi was stopped just to be fined for whatever reason and these people had to pay upfront! Although, we do have traffic regulations, but sometimes to those not knowledgeable, it’s like parenting, something comes up and you didn’t know that it’s a rule until you’ve been told to go in your room! Most of the time, people get late to work because a traffic enforcer will stop this one jeep and make the poor jeepney driver spend an enormous time with haggling (remember, these jeepney drivers don’t get so much from their job), and the traffic enforcer being insensitive to the people inside the jeep if they’re late for work or not. I guess, what a foreigner should do is learn what really is the rule and street law to know how he can defend himself at times. Stick to what you know is right, because, disappointing as it may seem, some traffic enforcers doesn’t even know what they’re doing.

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for your information. One of the reasons I had heard was that the Mayor stopped Police Patrols for traffic enforcement was because of corruption, and sometimes towards foreigners. Now again the TMC probably for the same reasons.
      That was why I was advised to put window tinting on my car windows to lower the visability of my bright white skin.

  3. banot says:


    When Richard stayed in Manila for almost 3months(work related), he managed to drive the “pinoy way” of driving which is drive at your own risk. No rules, just trying to pass all vehicles by all means to avoid sitting on traffic. I almost got a heart attack and sworn not to drive ever in Manila area when i came for a visit. I grew up in the province of Davao where traffic is not too bad, it was very overwhelming that the traffic alone is good enough reason not to retire there… Traffic police in Manila are the worst, we got pulled over twice for no valid reason. Everyone is doing the same “violation” per se so what’s the fuzz?? MOney of course. I told him not give any money, they can give us tickets if they want and follow the process. But he didn’t even have any form to give us, he just threatened us that it’s a long process to get your licensed back from the local office, instead he offered to just settle it right there. Which means give him money and he’ll let us go. Furious as i was, hubby end up giving him enough peso to end the confrontation. Second time we got pulled over i protested not to give them money, i told hubby i have all day to go to the local police station and settle the penalties. We got away with it without paying money, neither surrendering a license. No reason to bribe them this time if they can’t even provide a ticket or a violation. No more free money. If i can only convinced hubby not to retire in my own country i would. I just can’t handle the corruption and bad politics. I cannot get things done on time(like paperworks) without bribing someone. It’s a hopeless case. I’m disappointed just thinking about it.

    • Bruce says:


      It is good Richard learned to drive here and not be intimidated by the craziness. I am also proud you taught him to stand up to the local police. Over the time I have been here, I have heard less and less of Foreigners being singles out for violations. The worst is at lights where they have “Yield on Green” most TMC did not know the meanig and stopped many drivers for making the turn. Well now there is nobody to give tickets.
      About retiring here or staying there, I think if he could aford to stay there and live well he would, but with the economics it is getting harder there.

  4. banot says:

    Nobody to give tickets??? that’s funny. I don’t think they even know the law. Pathetic. I’m cheap but reasonable and i don’t want people to take advantage on me/us whether her in the US or PI.

    He is very firm on his decision to retire in five years time or so. That’s why he emailed you something about house construction or something related to that. We are going to survey 4 properties this September, and hopefully by early next year constructions starts. He said he can afford it according to his calculations and good planning. I just told him to pursue his plans but i won’t be ready when that time comes. I might end up staying here for few more years or if i get a good business running there that keeps me occupied i’ll probably have a change of heart. Who knows, anything can happen five years from now.

    • Bruce says:

      Corruption is corruption everywhere. Also you give someone power and it sometimes goes to their head. I saw that with the police in America. If pay was high enough to sustain a family and there were agencies to monitor where workers money comes from there might be less corruption. Even in government here there is not a strong oversight group.

      With you and your husband. You 2 will do what you think is best. I do smile from you wanting to stay there. I have heard about many Filipinas wanting to stay in America where their husbands want to retire here.

  5. Tigulang says:

    Newbi here. Just browsing your site. Have been planning to move to Davao for about 5 years now. It will happen very soon. In the process of collecting helpful information to make the move as smooth as possible. Thanks for what you have provided.

    I find in funny or strange that so many Pinays do not like the Idea of retiring in the Philippines. T/G mine is not one of them. In our stiuation , we could remain here in Florida and have a comfortable living or move to Davao and live a life of luxury. To me , this is a no brainer. Were I forced to live in Manila , my opinion would most likely be different.

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for visiting and I hope you will continue to enjoy my site. I think once a Pinay sees the cleanliness, the shopping and availability of products, the ease of commuting and the general life in the States they prefer to stay there.

      How many times and how long did you visit Davao. I do agree about Manila.

  6. Tigulang says:

    In the 2001-2002 timeframe when corting my wife , 8 visits and close to 6 months time. 3 weeks vacaton , her first retun since 2002 , in the summer of 2007. Hopefully moving there sometime in Setember this year if all goes according to plans. We are in the information gathering stage now. Looking at houses on the net. Trying to tie up loose ends over here.

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