Social media stops profiteering in LTO

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

THE senate hearing last week on the implementation of the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center dealt DOTr and LTO a serious blow to their unchecked hubris, arrogance and greed for decades. They were made to eat humble pie, with tails between their legs.

Worse, this LTO’s last attempt at another profiteering scheme opened a can of worms – continued none delivery of car plates and motorcycle plates after receiving payments from motorists and riders, exclusive driving school charging exorbitant enrolment fees for license applicants and erring drivers, and the mandatory child safety seats for toddlers to 11 years old!

The continued use Republic Act No. 3146 or the Land Transportation. Code of the Philippines, and the Clean Air Act, as cover is fine, ostensibly intended to ensure that the transportation industry is updated on safety standards; motorists and passengers are safe, and only road worthy vehicles are allowed to travel along the roads in order the minimize polluted air and accidents.

There is no disagreement with these arguments cited and reiterated during the hearing at the senate and at the Dagupan City Council except for one difference: There is nothing in those laws that gives DOTr and its agency LTO, the blanket authority to delegate its powers and authority to a private group of businessmen. Worse, nothing in the law that says it can even dictate fees and charges without an explicit approval from NEDA or a congressional law.

I wonder if LTO Regional director Teofilo Guadiz III would have conducted himself with the same disposition, same air of arrogance with dismissive view of legislators in Dagupan councilors if he were made to appear before the senate. Would he have challenged the senators, too, to file a case in court to question the legality of the PMVIC policy? I seriously doubt that.  But fortunately for him, his rank does not entitle him to represent LTO in that forum, thus that saved him from national embarrassment. But he cannot escape the embarrassment he brought upon himself in Dagupan among his kabaleyans.

An abject lesson for him and his like-minded government officials – there is now a social media that can throw off convoluted legal arguments with simple arguments to serve public interests! They grossly underestimated the growing influence of social media. Little did they realize that senators and the President read and hear the rage that come out of the social media. This time it was about protesting the abuse of authority of DOTr and LTO officials.

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MOTIVES AND PROFITS. The turn of events in the post-discussion of the PMVIC issue confirmed the profit motives, the special arrangements for the private beneficiaries of the “mandated” inspection law.

 Firstly, the LTO-MC 2018-5128 clearly stated that the schedule of fees for the inspection and re-inspection of vehicles was authorized and dictated by LTO. But lo and behold! The association of the PMVCI operators came out with the statement, obviously to assuage the public and assure the senate that they are reasonable businessmen, that they are willing to slash their fees!!!

 Here’s the slip. Why and how could the operators assume they could unilaterally reduce the fees when it was the LTO that dictated and authorized the fees? It became apparent that the fees were dictated by the businessmen who hoped to make P7 billions in profits every year! Not even the LTO officials offered any fee compromise because obviously it had no “authority” on the matter. The memo circular catered to the whims and recommendations of the PMVIC operators.     

 Am I wrong to believe that the PMVIC was clearly again another brainchild of crony-businessmen of top DOTr-LTO officials? And the indications are there that the choice of PVMIC operators was left to regional directors to decide – with clear “guidelines.”

 Sen. Grace Poe pledged to secure and expose the list of owners of chosen PMVIC operators who stand to benefit from the illegal policy.  But I’m inclined to give fellow Dagupeño Guadiz the benefit of the doubt in the spirit of full transparency. Would he preempt Ms. Poe and reveal the names of chosen operators in Pangasinan? I hope he’ll be more candid than the employees of Bily Transport who were told to have amnesia so they can’t name the real owners of the company.

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WHY PRIVATE 2-4 WHEEL VEHICLES. The DOTr-LTO officials who appeared at the senate hearing (and Mr. Guadiz who confronted the Dagupan councilors) and the officers of the PMVIC association were less than truthful in their defense of the policy creating the need for PMVIC.

They all cited the same data, i.e., the number of road mishaps and death toll in earlier years, implying that these accidents were caused by faulty maintenance of private vehicles. They had the gall, going as far as indicating that people that died from road accidents were just as high as the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. Utterly false and deceitful!

Judging from media reports alone, the deaths of 10 persons on the road in one incident can only possibly die due to faulty maintenance of buses and cargo trucks and, note, driver’s errors! But not from faulty maintenance of cars. There is not one news report I can recall  where faulty maintenance of a private vehicle caused deaths of more than 10 persons at a time.

Here are samples of common news reports on road accidents:

1.     Aljazeera News reported in November 2019 – “More than a dozen dead as truck plunges into Philippines ravine” At least 19 killed, and several others injured when driver of truck lost control on steep mountain road.

2.     GMA NEWS- Unang Hirit February 12 ,2021 – Truck nahulog sa bangin sa Zamboanga del Sur, mga residents tumulong iligtas ang driver at tatlong sakay.

3.     Phil. Daily Inquirer September 4, 2020 – Bus crashes into 13 vehicles in Makati City as brakes malfunction; 13 hurt

From these news reports alone, data will show that accidents involving 6-12 wheelers are caused by both drivers’ errors (drunk driving, shabu intake, sleepiness) and faulty maintenance.  Why? Because employed drivers have nothing to do with maintenance, they  only rely on company’s maintenance policies.

Meanwhile, data on road accidents involving private vehicles are caused mostly by drivers’ errors, particularly in head-on collisions or side-swiping pedestrians and with all types of vehicles, particularly motorcycles. Why rarely faulty maintenance? Because owners realize it’s their lives at stake and they, more than DOTr and LTO, would be more concerned about risks to their lives.

This brings us to the question. Why is the inspection policy focused on private 2-4 wheel vehicles and not 6-12 wheelers? Is it because the volume of registered 2-4 vehicles and annual increase in volume promise more billions in profit? Isn’t that right Mr. Guadiz? Or do you need to go to court to challenge this reality?

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PREFERRED VACCINE. The guarded secret of the Presidential Security Group is finally out.

The officers and members of this elite group got their vaccine inoculation in September 2020, courtesy of the donation of Sinopharm from China!

But was it a really a secret that no one among the senators knew about it? Of course they knew… but it was a chance to discredit the effective Chinese product with the PH government in tow, hence the loud call for investigation “for violating FDA regulation.”  

Note the silence of the opposition now that the Sinopharm vaccine’s effectiveness can no longer be refuted with no serious side effects as the PSG experience had shown.

Me? I’ll take Sinopharm vaccine, anytime. Thanks to the PSG  tests.

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