LTO official questions confiscation of licenses-A A +A
Thursday, April 29, 2010
THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 yesterday said the policemen who intercepted eight Cebu City Government-owned buses were not deputized to confiscate driver's licenses or hold the buses for hours.
"Only LTO deputized agents can confiscate driver's licenses and apprehend motor vehicles violating provisions of Republic Act 4136. Even the police must be deputized before they can implement that law," LTO 7 Director Raul Aguilos said in a text message.
Policemen in Barili intercepted the buses at a checkpoint last Monday, because these lacked license plates and registration papers. But Mayor Tomas Osmeña blamed the Capitol for the incident and said some 1,000 children aboard the buses went hungry for about four hours.
Aguilos yesterday said that Supt. Erson Digal, the Cebu Provincial Police Office director, was right when he said the policemen have the duty to conduct checkpoints. But they had no authority to confiscate licenses or hold the buses, he said.
"That's not their duty. That's the duty of the LTO and its deputized agents," Aguilos said.
A Capitol consultant challenged newly-appointed regional director Aguilos to cite any law or rule that will prevent the police from enforcing a national law, which states all motor vehicles using public highways must be registered.
"Even an ordinary citizen can effect a citizen's arrest...if there's a clear violation of the law," said lawyer Rory Jon Sepulveda.
He also clarified the buses were not impounded, and said the Barili policemen should not be condemned for enforcing the law.
"Wa'y pamulitika ani. Police ra man tawn ni. Wala gyud namulitika ani (No politics is involved here. It was a police action. No one went politicking)," he added.
One Cebu is asking its supporters to take pictures of Kaohsiung buses without plate numbers so they can come up with a comprehensive report.
Cebu City south district congressional aspirant Jonathan Guardo has also used the issue to question his rival, Osmeña.
Guardo said the mayor has shown a penchant for bending the law.
He cited the mayor's refusal to condemn a spate of vigilante-style killings in the city that began in 2004, as well as "vote-buying" using public funds. He referred to, among others, the mayor's previous announcement of a P600-million "political budget."
"Kon dili man gani makatuman si Tomas sa mga balaud, unsa man iyang katakus unya sa pagpanday ug balaudnon (If the mayor cannot even heed the law, what makes him qualified to craft laws himself)?" Guardo said.
The mayor dared Guardo to go to court and prove he has violated any law.
"He's talking about me spending money, what about him? Until now he will not answer, and now, I'm the one who broke the law?" Osmeña asked. He referred to a pending case the Philippine Sports Commission filed, over the allegedly unliquidated funds used for the Southeast Asian Games in 2005.
"If you like people like Guardo, go ahead, you elect him for Congress, because catching a violation for not having registration papers is more important to him than detaining 400 children," Osmeña said. "You want a government like that? You have a choice."
Also yesterday, a nongovernment organization criticized the Barili police force for being insensitive to the children's welfare.
Jacqueline dela Peña of Kaabag sa Sugbu said that while they respect the police force for trying to uphold the law, letting the children go hungry was uncalled for.
"The traffic violation should have been settled among the bus drivers, the authorities in charge of the Kaoshiung buses and the police officers, causing less anxiety to the passengers," said dela Peña.
Most of the children who were involved in the incident were reportedly beneficiaries of groups under Kaabag sa Sugbu, like the Stop Abuse of Minors Association, Share a Child Movement and Lihok Pilipina-Bantay Banay.