PRIVATE motorists on Monday joined calls opposing the implementation of the controversial radio frequency identification project (RFID) by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the private contractor, Stradcom Corporation.

Last January 12, the High Court issued a status quo ante order effectively stopping the implementation of the RFID program after giving due course to the petition filed by militant groups Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).

Under the RFID projects, all vehicles would be required to install stickers containing a microchip that stores vehicle information. For a one-time fee of P350, the LTO plans to install the RFID tags on some 4,760,593 vehicles, which is expected to raise P1.6 billion in revenues.

The RFID tag, which is intended to last for 10 years, will be procured from Stradcom.

In a petition-in-intervention, the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) asked the Supreme Court (SC) to declare as invalid and unconstitutional the two memorandum circulars of the DOTC and LTO and the memorandum of agreement between LTO and Stradcom.

The assailed issuances require all motor vehicle owners to pay P350 for the mandatory RFID tagging of their vehicles as a pre-requisite to the renewal of registration of each motor vehicle that they own.

AAP describes itself as the umbrella organization of various car clubs and private motor vehicle owners in the country and as advocacy group on motoring-related issues.

As such, the group said they stand to be directly injured once the DOTC fully implements the RFID project.

In their petition, AAP asked the SC that government and Stradcom be permanently enjoined from imposing the RFID project on the ground that it is an invalid exercise of legislative power by LTO and DOTC.

“(It) is not merely a procedural regulation, which the LTO has the power to impose, but greatly affects the substantive rights of citizens, protected by the Constitution, to property and to privacy. As such the LTO and DOTC gravely abused their discretion and exceeded their jurisdiction in imposing a substantive instead of a mere procedural rule,” AAP said.

The group said the respondent government agencies violated Revised Administrative Code of 1987 when they failed to conduct public consultations and to publish the rules prior to the implementation of the RFID project.

The DOTC, LTO, and Stradcom also failed to comply with the requirement that the approval of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) be obtained before any new fee or increase in existing fee is implemented.

AAP further said RFID run the risk of violating one’s right to informational privacy, arguing that there is no compelling interest to warrant the intrusion into the privacy of private motor vehicle owners out of the imposition of the RFID project.

“The rules implementing the RFID project fall short of narrowly limiting the information that will be contained and accessed through the RFID tags and of assuring that personal information, which will be gathered about motor vehicles and their owners, will only be used for clearly specified purposes by designated officials,” AAP further stated. (JCV/Sunnex)