Is the LTO memo being defied?

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I AM totally confused by the stand of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 about mandatory drug testing as requirement for driver's license application and renewal.

LTO officials insist it's no longer a requirement after LTO chief Virginia Torres issued a memorandum circular for its discontinuance in view of the passage of the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013, which President Noynoy Aquino signed last May.

But the law has not been implemented yet, as it lacks Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Republic Act No. 10586 repealed Section 36 (a) of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drug Act of 2002 requiring applicants to submit drug test results before they can be issued a driver’s license.

If this has been discontinued by LTO in view of the Torres memo, how come I still received complaints from driver’s license applicants in LTO branches in Carcar, Talisay, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and even in the extension regional office at SM City? They said that they are still required to submit drug tests results for the issuance or re-issuance of their driver's license.

LTO 7 regional director Arnel Tancinco, in interviews and media forums, said that drug testing is no longer a requirement. But how come there are still complaints? Is this a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing?

Mabayot ko ani boang. If LTO has stopped this requirement, is the agency defying a court order?

When Torres issued that memorandum on June 27, 2013, a certain Dulcisimo Tuldanes filed a civil case of prohibition and or mandamus with prayer for temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction/ preliminary mandatory injunction against Torres and other DOTC/LTO officials before the sala of Judge Hermes Montero of Branch 59 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Toledo City.

Tuldanes did it as a citizen and taxpayer entitled to the protection against reckless, irresponsible and drugged drivers who seriously pose grave danger to the lives and safety of motorists, passengers and pedestrians. He wants that the mandatory drug test be continued to prevent drug addicts from securing driver’s licenses.

Tuldanes also argued that the drug test requirement under RA 9165 was not repealed by RA 10586 as the two laws are complementary, interconnected and interrelated and can therefore stand together.

On Oct. 9, 2013, Judge Montero granted Tuldanes some relief. The court said: “(I)t is the opinion of this Court, therefore that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief thus applied pending the final resolution of the main case. The right of the plaintiff has been violated by the defendants through the discontinuance of the mandatory drug testing and that non-continuance of an order-directing the conduct of mandatory drug testing-would probably work injustice to the plaintiff and that the grant of the injunctive relief is a matter of great urgency.

“Accordingly, the application for preliminary injunction is granted. Hence, a writ of preliminary injunction is issued-enjoining the defendants from implementing the Memorandum dated June 27, 2013 issued by Assistant Secretary Virginia Torres of the DOTC/LTO upon a bond, in cash or surety, in the amount of P300,000 to be approved by the Court.”

The disadvantage of the drug testing requirement is that it's an additional financial burden on applicants. But if mandatory drug testing is scrapped, are we exposing ourselves to drug users who can just easily secure a driver's license? How much does a drug test cost? What is the value of life?

Pero ang ako lang ani, klarohon sa taga LTO. Naa pa ni o wala na?

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2014.

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