THE Senate committee on public services chaired by Sen. Grace Poe yesterday recommended the repeal of the Department of Transportation’s order delegating the motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) program of the Land Transportation Office to private companies.
The panel said the DOTr’s policies on delegating MVIS to private motor vehicles inspection centers (PMVICs) were “half-baked” since they did not go through the normal legislative process inherent in the power of Congress.
Last week, the panel conducted a hearing on the PMVIC issues and recommended the temporary suspension of PMVIC operations. Days after the hearing, President Duterte said the MVIS is no longer mandatory even as PMVIC operators agreed to lower the fees for roadworthiness inspection from P1,800 to P500 to P800.
Before Duterte issued the order, private vehicle owners were required to have their vehicles tested in PMVICs before they can be registered with the LTO, a process that critics said is open to corruption.
Under the old system, vehicles can be registered once they have passed the smoke emission tests being conducted by accredited LTO testing centers. Private vehicle owners now have the option to have their vehicles tested in PMVIC centers or have them tested in accredited smoke emission centers.
“In the meantime, the repeal of DOTr DO (Department Order) 2018-19 and all related issuances is recommended… While fees have been lowered for now and testing seems to have been made optional, the implementation of this flawed program must be stopped definitively pending the resolution of issues hounding it,” the committee report said.
The committee cited the various concerns it unearthed during the hearing which prompted it to recommend the repeal of the DOTr order, including “the issues on the legality of the MVIS privatization, lack of consultation and transparency in accreditation, inadequate number of inspection centers in operation, glitches in the system, and overall incompatibility of private motor vehicle inspection systems with the LTO- IT and landscape of motor vehicles in the country, all remain unresolved without decisive action from the Department.”
The panel also recommended that the Senate blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon conduct a further probe on the “highly anomalous transactions” surrounding the accreditation of PMVICs and officials involved.
Senate president pro tempore Ralph Recto had earlier said the 24 PMVICs operating could easily rake in P8 billion a year, while the government earns just P100,000 annually from each operator.
“The questionable issuances seem to have created a favorable environment for an oligopoly where only very few players can enter and succeed. The inexplicable dark moments during the evaluation process and lack of transparency in the eventual accreditation of winning service providers bear badges of fraud which should be further investigated by the appropriate committee,” the panel report said.
The panel added that older vehicles are also at risk of being unduly rejected under the current system due to the lack of clear definition of “roadworthiness.”
It also pointed out that with only 24 PMVICs currently operational out of 458 originally targeted by the LTO, the unclear noncompulsory status of the MVIS only leads to more confusion for motorists.
Poe earlier asked the DOTr and LTO to submit to the panel the names of the companies and incorporators of the accredited PMVICs, after it was found out that 12 out of 24 do not have enough capitalization to finance an expensive inspection center which costs more than P50 million. Eight others registered as sole proprietorships contained no information on their financial standing.