Transport group opposes motorists’ fine hike

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Friday, June 20, 2014


A LOCAL coalition of transport groups is urging the National Government to stop the penalty hike imposed on ‘colorum’ public vehicles as the newly enacted law took effect Thursday.

Ringo Lago, secretary-general of the Solidarity of Transport Alliance in Region X-Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Starex-Piston 10), said the group condemned the newly implemented penalty schedule under the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01 or the Revised Schedule of Fines and Penalties for Violations of Laws, Rules and Regulations Governing Land Transportation.

Under the JAO 2014-01, colorum bus operators could pay up to P1 million for first time offenders.

Fine for other first-time colorum offenders can go up to P6,000 for motorcycles; P50,000 for jeepneys; P120,000 for sedans; and P200,000 for vans and trucks.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the implementing agency, said the main purpose of the penalty hike is to reduce colorum vehicles or land transport violations in the country.

Colorum vehicles are either unregistered or they ply routes which are unauthorized by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Breeding ground for grave extortion

Lago, however, is doubtful of the said raise as it will only be a new breeding ground for grave extortion among corrupt police officers.

"We do not hamper the agency's (DOTC) will to get rid of colorum drivers and operators. But as I see it, this new law can only be a new breeding ground for corrupt traffic enforcers to extort," Lago told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Thursday.

The group is also raising this issue to the City Government since local transport operators like jeepney, ‘habal-habal,’ ‘motorela’ and ‘trisikad’ can also become victims of illegal schemes of corrupt traffic enforcers.

In a picket rally Thursday, the transport coalition hopes the national government will hear the 'underprivileged' transport drivers and operators.

"The government must not vent their ire on small transport drivers and operators. They contribute to our economy through their patronage to oil companies," its statement said.

Rogelio Dagpin, 55, a Gusa-bound jeepney driver, said the new schedule is unfair to them.

"This will be hard. What if traffic enforcers will find fault and just accuse drivers as arrogant, the drivers can do nothing about it," Dagpin told this paper.

Trashed

In 2008, the Regional Trial Court-Branch 5 of Baguio City and the Court of Appeals both trashed the department order of the DOTC, Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to raise penalties for traffic violators.

However, according to Lago, it was still implemented.

For now, the transport group is waiting for the response of the LTO and the LTFRB regional offices in Northern Mindanao.

Starex-Piston is planning to file formal complaints to the LTO and LTFRB in the region.

The JAO covers other public utility vehicle-related violations such as refusal to render services to the public or convey passengers to their destination; overcharging; employing reckless, insolent, discourteous, or arrogant drivers; operating PUVs with defective parts and accessories; using tampered taximeters; trip cutting; and others.

Penalties for other violations, such as driving without a valid driver’s license; reckless driving; failure to wear a seat belt; driving an unregistered motor vehicle; and other breaches of traffic rules and regulations, are also provided for in the JAO.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 20, 2014.

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