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PRRD presses road safety

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to push for better road safety in the Philippines has found an opponent in Clean Air Movement Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) President Hilario Pitpit, who has recently criticized the government’s Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVIC) program.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) fast-tracked the PMVIC program last year to ensure that more Filipinos on the road are protected by expanding vehicle inspection from only compliance with emissions standards to include roadworthiness checks.

Pitpit, along with Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) President Arsenio Evangelista, have made clear their plans to file legal action against the implementation of the DOTr and Land Transport Office-led (LTO) initiative. He is an owner of a Private Emission Testing Center (PETC).

“Bibigyan kami ng show cause order, pero pagdating sa hearing sa DOTr, kahit ano sabihin mo, talagang pupunta sa revocation,” alleged Pitpit.

Roadworthiness checks on vehicles remains one of the unresolved problems in the country, presenting a hurdle to three past presidents. Political pressure on then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration sidelined it, and former President Benigno Aquino’s term was marked with inaction. The thrust to promote roadworthiness of vehicles was only revived when President Duterte brought it back to the fore

With mechanical failure cited as the second leading cause of road accidents in the Philippines, the PMVIC initiative intends to make the nation’s roads safer through the regulation of vehicular roadworthiness by increasing the number of tests, down from the previous single emission test to a test with over 60 points that checks a variety of parts, such as brakes, lights, wheel alignments, and more.

A full-blown Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) is the solution to reducing and eliminating vehicles with obsolete or damaged components that affect their performance to the point of causing accidents and injuries on the road. Other programs like the Clean Air Act of 1999, which produced CAMPI, was only an interim measure until the MVIS could be rolled out.

Pitpit’s main objection to the administration’s plan to upgrade national road safety stems from economic reasons. He voiced his concern over the loss of business that PETCs would experience due to the government’s plan to upgrade national road safety; all vehicles that have only their smoke emission checked would now need to have their other components, parts, and processes assessed as well.

“Pag na-privatize po ang MVIS (Motor Vehicle Inspection System), lahat na ng private vehicles at yung public utility vehicles, ang mangyayari, isasarado na lahat ng private emission testing centers,” said Pitpit. “Pagkatapos, lahat na ng private vehicles at public utility vehicles, sa private MVIS na mapupunta.”

Meanwhile, Evangelista told Cignal TV’s OneNews that VACC seeks a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) with the Supreme Court, alleging that there may be corruption involved and that the initiative’s implementation has been rushed.

“There was no public consultation and it seems that they rushed this decision. What we want now is to ask for a moratorium and have a public consultation participated in by sectors concerned,” he said. “Pag walang consultation baka may corruption.”

However, a public consultation to discuss the guidelines for the motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program was called by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as early as July 31, 2019 to decide the guidelines for the motor vehicle inspection program. Moreover, several public consultations were held across the country at the local government level to decide who the contracts would be awarded to.

PETCs have long been the subject of potential corruption, such as doctored results sent to the regulatory bodies. The DOTr even began shutting PETCs as early as last year due to allegations of various violations.