Lawmakers target motorists’ ‘burden’

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Several lawmakers are demanding an explanation from government transportation officials for the hasty implementation of two directives that they said placed a heavy financial burden on motorists.

The Philippine National Police’s Highway Patrol Group conducts one-time, big-time operations against erring motorists along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Jan. 15, 2021. They apprehended drivers of unregistered vehicles and those with unauthorized plates and motorcycle riders without proper safety gears. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

At the House of Representatives, the Committee on Transportation will launch an inquiry next week on the implementation of the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) Private Motor Vehicle Inspection System (PMVIS) project.

Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, meanwhile, is questioning the rush to enforce Republic Act (RA) 11229 or the “Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act.”

House Transportation Committee Chairman Edgar Mary Sarmiento said the February 10 hearing will look into complaints about the high fees charged by PMVIS centers and their “seriously flawed” system and evaluation protocols.

Sarmiento said there were “even reports of vehicles that were damaged during the process of inspection because of system incompatibilities.”

He said it did not make sense that even a brand-new car must go through the PMVIS, while public utility vehicles or PUVs, which are more prone to “wear and tear,” are exempted.

The investigation was prompted by a resolution filed by Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who said “there are already numerous reports of inconsistencies and anomalies regarding these private inspection centers.”

Rodriguez cited cases wherein a center registered inconsistent or faulty findings and additional costs for another inspection.

“These complaints prove that PMVICs do not have people with enough training and knowledge, and the right and reliable equipment to do the task the LTO (Land Transportation Office) has assigned them, and for which service they are allowed to collect excessive fees from motor vehicle owners,” he said.

He said in one case, a motorist paid P1,800 for the first inspection and another P800 for the next. Rodriguez said it seems that some inspection centers “intentionally fail certain vehicles to be tested a second time after payment of another fee.”

Sarmiento lamented that the PMVIS was rolled out despite his panel’s request for a review of the system.

He said he wrote Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade last September informing him of the motion of the panel for Congress to inspect a PMVIS center as an exercise of oversight function.

He said DoTr officials agreed to set the date for the inspection.

In succeeding hearings, several congressmen and transport leaders questioned why stakeholders were not consulted before the PMVIS guidelines were finalized, Sarmiento said.

Go said President Rodrigo Duterte agreed with him that RA 11229 put an added burden on motorists who were already struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The law requires motorists transporting small children to have special safety seats for them.

Baby car seats can cost upwards of P2,000.

Go said he tried to persuade Tugade and LTO Chief Edgar Galvante to postpone the law because of the pandemic.

The law was passed in February 2019. The senator said an information drive was supposed to follow the release of the implementing rules and regulations, but it didn’t push through because of the pandemic.

Go said Tugade and Galvante agreed to suspend the enforcement of RA 11229 while the guidelines are being finalized.

The age and height of children to be covered by the law as well as penalties for its violators and the standard car seat to be used will still be determined and an awareness campaign must be conducted to raise public understanding, he said.

The LTO said it will conduct information, education and communications campaigns for three to six months before fully enforcing the law.

Based on the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, 17 percent or 12,000 of the total road crash victims from 2006 to 2014 were children.

(Source: The Manila Times)


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