The Land Transportation Office softened and considered the appeal from the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Public Utilities to let the city traffic enforcers take charge of violations involving drivers of tricycles-for-hire.
LTO-Tagbilaran Registrar Erwin Patalinghug explained that their office can only extend its authority in matters regarding the driverâ€™s licenses, but can let the city traffic enforcers implement the city ordinance providing the lower penalty instead of the LTO agents implementing the higher penalty based on the LTO-LTFRB joint administrative order.
This is in response to the privilege speech of City Councilor Jeremias Pabe, appealing to LTO-Tagbilaran â€œto leave matters involving tricycles-for-hire to the city government, through the City Traffic Management Office with its traffic enforcers armed with citation tickets which is already provided in an existing ordinanceâ€.
Pabe chairs the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Public Utilities.
The councilor cited that while LTO-Tagbilaran is bent on implementing the P5,000 penalty to refusal to convey based on the LTO-LTFRB Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01, the City Traffic Management Office also implements P1,000 penalty for a such offense.
â€œI understand that the LTO and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) came up with Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01 in June last year that increased the penalty of traffic rules and franchise violations to instill discipline among the drivers and operators of Public Utility Vehicles. To achieve an orderly traffic system is actually our common goal with the LTO and the LTFRB,â€ according to Pabe.
He pointed out that his specific concern on JAO 2014-01 is on the General Provisions requiring â€œthe driver to pay the penalty within 15 days from date of apprehensionâ€ as stated in Paragraph 3 in page 23 of the joint administrative order.
â€œI noticed, as also noticed by the other transport groups in other areas of the country objecting to the order, that this provision sweepingly directs that the driverâ€™s failure to pay the penalty within 15 days â€˜would result in the automatic suspension of his license for a period of 30 daysâ€™. I share the stand of the other groups who earlier expressed their objection to the joint order that there has been no provision considering an opportunity for the driver to contest his apprehension,â€ Pabe added.
It is also alarming that in the JAO, fines and penalties for refusal to convey on the part of the drivers of the tricycles-for-hire is raised to up to P5,000.
Pabe also said he recognized that enforcers deputized by the LTO have been trained to adhere to what is ideal, but it should also be considered that this scenario can lead to possibilities of human factors.
â€œSince the city has an existing ordinance penalizing the same offense with lower penalty of only P1,000, our tricycle drivers might be tempted to invoke the coverage of the city ordinance or when apprehended by LTO deputized agents, they might either argue or offer an â€˜indecent proposalâ€™ that might be tempting to the LTO deputized agents. The â€œindecent proposalâ€ could be an outright settlement of the violation between them to avoid paying the P5,000 penalty based on JAO No. 2014-01,â€ Pabe pointed out.
The councilor said implementing the higher penalty under the JAO might only be counter-productive.
â€œInstead of instilling discipline on the roads, we are developing our tricycle drivers into creative offenders compounding a traffic or franchise violation with the evil of bribery. Also, we are giving a scenario where a dedicated deputized agent of LTO might dance with the music, transforming a law enforcer into an offender,â€ according to Pabe.
He said that â€œin this scenario, there is no system of check-and-balance or assurance for a sense of objectivity in instilling discipline and enforcing the national orderâ€.
â€œThere is also no assurance that erring drivers who have settled their penalties based on the local ordinance will be cleared by the LTO deputized agents based on the joint administrative order. In this scenario, there would be double jeopardy on the apprehended drivers which is unconstitutional. We should also accept the fact it is futile to tackle at our level, the matter on the joint administrative order crafted at the national level. It is, therefore, more practical to resolve issues and scenarios that can be settled at the level of both the LTO-Tagbilaran and the city government,â€ according to Pabe.
On this, the councilor appealed that â€œwhile the LTO-Tagbilaran has the mandate to implement JAO No. 2014-01 based on an order from the national office, let it then be limited to the public utility vehicles governed by franchises issued by LTFRB, and leave the matters concerning the tricycles-for-hire to the city government which is the entity responsible for issuing their franchises and operatorâ€™s permitsâ€.
The councilor also proposed that dividing the task can also help the LTO-Tagbilaran address the problem on limited manpower.
â€œThe city traffic enforcers can help ease the burden by taking charge in running after erring drivers of tricycles-for-hire. By dividing the task, both the LTO-Tagbilaran and the city traffic enforcers can simultaneously instill discipline among the transport groups and improve the services of public utilities,â€ he added.