MANILA - Manila Mayor Joseph ''Erap'' Estrada has ordered an investigation into reports that a gang is using his name to collect millions of pesos in ''protection fees'' from traders at the Divisoria Market.
Estrada said vegetable truckers and dealer told him they each pay P2,800 every week so they can unload their cargo at a portion of Recto Avenue.
Dealers also claimed they shell out P80 a day for a bogus "business permit" and P300 in "intelligence fee."
They said this "kotong" or extortion scheme has been going on since the 1980s.
"My name and reputation is being destroyed here. Matagal na pala 'to. It's been there since the time of [former mayors Lito] Atienza and [Alfredo] Lim," he said.
Estrada ordered the Manila Police District (MPD) and Task Force Manila to identify members of the alleged extortion gang.
Divisoria is among the targets of ongoing city government efforts against illegal vendors and structures that create traffic gridlocks.
Last week, Estrada directed the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau (MTPB) to bar vegetable dealers from traversing Recto Avenue.
Clearing operations were also held in Binondo, Blumentritt, Quiapo, and Sta. Cruz districts.