IT SEEMS everyone is outraged and furious with the way the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is being managed. It is a messed up government agency charged to protect the riding public.
Protest and denunciation of this agency under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has lately gone viral in social and main stream media after it attempted to implement two policies. These are the use of child car seats and the mandatory inspection of all motor vehicles.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte entered the picture and issued a stop order, considered by many as an indication that the implementing rules of LTO are flawed and susceptible to an added prospect and opening for graft and corruption.
There are various reasons the car child seat law has become extremely controversial. It became so, not for its good intended purpose.
The hullabaloo has turned into a national uproar simply because the LTO did nothing to inform the general public of the protective and safety benefits of sitting young children in car seats.
The car child seat law was enacted by Congress at the end of year 2019 and all the LTO has to show, when she woke up after more than a year of deep slumber, is a long list of disagreeable implementing rules.
These rules are warily so criticized by car owners and drivers that politicians in Congress were also awaken to open their mouths by taking the issue for media mileage in a masquerade to cover-up for their failure to write a safe and fair comprehensive law.
True to the color of their calling, they made honest assessments on the incompetence of LTO in handling motor vehicle road policies. They crafted the law but failed to suggest guidelines knowing for a fact the ineptitude of LTO.
The politicians may be right in their assessment though even as they asked LTO to differ its implementation due to the economic crises spawned by Ms. Covid-19.
The Lower House and the Senate are conducting separate investigations after asking the DOTr to suspend the implementation of Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act and the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection System (PMVIS).
There are several kinds of car seats depending on the age and sizes of children. And unknown perhaps to LTO policy makers, these protection apparatus have expiration dates after initial use.
They are expensive as it is that even young middle class families may barely afford. A news report says a regular car seat would cost no less than five thousand pesos, and a low quality one at some P3,000. Their availability in our local market is another matter that may dictate higher item prices.
Ironically, the use of car child seats is mandated only in private vehicles and not in public utility vehicles. This seems to be a discriminatory rule against car owners.
Records compiled by the Philippine Statistics Authority from 2006 to 2014 show some 12,000 or 17 percent death of children in road accidents. It did not, however, state whether the accidents involved are in either private or public utility vehicles.
As everyone knows, the practice of parents riding in public transport is sitting their children on their laps to avoid paying extra fare, and possibly a safety measure in case of accident. In private vehicles, children sit in backseats with elders.
On the other hand, the inspection of motor vehicles is also under question. Firstly, issues are raised on the technical capability of PMVIS contractors to conduct expert check-up; and secondly, the exorbitant charges demanded for their mandatory testing and appraisal.
In advance countries, motor vehicle inspection is free, fast and efficient. Five-year stickers are pasted on the windshields of new vehicles. Older vehicles that undergo and pass regular 36-point inspections are given three-year stickers.
In one of those rare occasions, we agree with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy when he wrote; "... parang hindi applicable sa atin" referring to the two LTO mandatory policies. He adds: "... do not mimic or copy everything that the Americans are doing".
Another comment that caught our attention says lack or limited information drives by LTO on traffic rules seems to be done on purpose. Thus, such inaction provides its agents and other traffic enforcer's basis to apprehend violators and open up starting points for "rip-off negotiations" for the "correct penalties". It is a simply because, as they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Perceived in the eyes of citizens, DOTr agencies like LTO and the franchise regulatory office are incompetent with a high percentage of officers and employees reportedly involved in graft and corruption.
Citizens cannot be denied for their way of thinking. Come to think about it, thousands of motor vehicle owners, after years of waiting, have not been issued registration plates.
February 12, 2021
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