LTO hit over inspection centers

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    SENATE president pro tempore Ralph Recto yesterday lashed out at the Land Transportation Office for its failure to consult the National Economic Development Authority on the prices the agency imposed for roadworthiness inspections of Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs).

    Recto said the “new and higher” roadworthiness inspection fees bypassed NEDA review, adding that fees and charges must be reviewed by the economic agency before implementation.

    Recto was referring to the P1,800 charged by PMVICs to check on the roadworthiness of vehicles weighing 4,500 kg or less, and another P900 if the vehicle fails the test and needs to be re-inspected. Motorcycles are charged P600 for the inspection, and another P300 for re-inspection.

    He said there is no existing law authorizing the LTO to privatize its motor vehicle inspection system and called on the agency to recall its “defective” policies. He also slammed the agency for making it mandatory that first time driver’s license applicants need to enroll in driving schools.

    “This is a case of overreach. Walang batas na explicitly saying puwedeng isa-pribado. ‘Yung sa requirement sa enrollment sa driving academy, kahit gumamit ka ng magnifying glass, walang provision na ganoon sa batas na ini-invoke ng LTO (This is a case of overreach.

    There is no law which explicitly states that you can privatize (the MVIS). In the case of enrollment in driving academies, even if you use a magnifying glass, you cannot see a provision (in the law) which is being invoked by the LTO),” Recto said during the Senate committee on public services hearing on the suspension of the operations of PMVICs.

    He said what the LTO submitted to the panel were executive orders, department orders, and memorandum circulars to justify the privatization of MVICs and mandatory enrollment in driving schools.

    “Tell me, what law authorizes you to do this, to privatize these testing centers (motor vehicle inspection centers?) Is there a law? It seems that you have overreached this time,” Recto said.

    Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon questioned why the Department of Transportation delegated its regulatory function in the MVIS to the private sector without any legal basis.

    The LTO is an agency under the DOTr.

    Drilon said there is need to review the MVIS privatization policy.

    “I don’t think it can do harm to the government, or the public, if we suspend in the meantime this regulation, based not on any rule, but on a memorandum circular of the DOTr. We can review it and see whether there is any basis for arguments raised in the last three hours,” Drilon said.

    Recto said the fees on owning and operating a motor vehicles “are essentially taxes ordered by those who do not have the power to collect them.”

    “This is taxation without authorization,” he said.

    He said the new fees only add burden to the people at this time when there are already other expenses incurred by vehicle owners and drivers.

    “Vehicles have excise taxes, and then there is the MVUC (Motor Vehicles Users’ Tax), we have two taxes on gasoline, then we have to pay for the medical exam in getting a driver’s license, then we pay for enrollment in a driving school, and now there is a child restraint seat, there are toll fees, and there are a lot of regulations which drivers are not aware of, in a system where we experience traffic jams,” he added.