TO help strike a balance between the promotion of road safety and the financial circumstances of struggling Filipinos today, Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center (PMVIC) owners working together with Congress and the Department of Transportation (DOtr) have agreed to lower the testing fees and waive re-testing fees for the period of the pandemic.
During the DOTr’s Thursday press conference, stakeholders from both private and public sectors gathered to announce the future for PMVICs.
“In the same way that we responded to the first call of the government about roadworthiness and made the investment without hesitation, we continue to believe that this is a good and worthy program,” said President Iñigo Larrazabal of the Vehicle Inspection Center Operators Association of the Philippines (VICOAP).
“Working closely with Congress and the DOTR, we have, as a group, agreed to operate at a loss and lower the fees: P600 for light vehicles; P500 for motorcycles; and P300 for PUJs.”
The reduction in fees will mean that each center will be exposed to significant financial losses for the private sector investors.
“We understand fully that given today’s economic climate, many Filipinos are struggling financially. Many have lost their jobs while others are struggling to change industries,” said Larrazabal. “And yet, with the economy re-opening, we are running the risk of allowing millions of unchecked vehicles back on the road, putting Filipinos at risk of tragedy.”
Despite the significant losses, Larrazabal said that VICOAP remains committed to making the country’s roads safer for Filipinos.
“If running at a loss will help Filipinos during this time of pandemic, then we will happily oblige,” said Larrazabal. “At the end of the day, what matters is that we save as many lives on the road as we can, and it is a cause that VICOAP will bleed for. “
Other attendees, such as Joebert Bolaños, Chairperson of the Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO), and current Clean Air Philippines Movement, Inc. (CAPMI) President Dr. Leo Olarte spoke in support of the PMVIC program. The two noted that while the rates may be lowered, it is still important to prioritize road safety.
“May kasunduan kami with LTO na maayos ang regulation,” said Bolaños. “The PMVICs reached out to MRO, and we are working with the owners on their system and processes to make sure everything is done right, fair, and proper for all vehicles, including the two-wheeled ones.”
Olarte noted that road accidents continue to plague the Philippines.
“Yearly ito nangyayari, yung classic road accidents. As a doctor I can sympathize with the victims,” said Olarte. “This long-overdue system, as mandated by law, must be implemented. Let us help mitigate the pain as we fight an equally urgent emergency.”
In addition to the reduction of fees, PMVIC owners under the VICOAP umbrella have also agreed to waive the re-testing fees in response to congressional appeals.
In Wednesday’s Congressional hearing for the Committee on Transportation, Committee Chair Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo, and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Macapagal Arroyo sought financial reprieve for the public from the PMVIC owners
“I-regalo lang muna natin sa mga mamayan,” said Sarmiento, appealing to PMVIC owners to waive the re-testing fees. “Can you do that for this country?”
“We are here to help a project that is very laudable,” added Sarmiento.
Deputy Speaker Marcoleta said that despite the controversy surrounding the PMVIC program, critics should not “castigate” the regulatory bodies implementing the program. “I am not making a pre-judgment. Let us give them a chance to speak,” he said.
Castelo spoke out in support of the effort to introduce roadworthiness inspections, recalling a 2018 incident in Batasan Hills where a truck’s brake failure resulted in fatalities.
“Namatay ang mga constituents, nawalan ng ama. We could have prevented those things kung maayos na inspection, hindi lang smoke emission,” said Castelo. “Maiiwasan natin ang aksidente at kamatayan ng ating mga kababayan.”
Even with the new developments surrounding the implementation of the PMVIC program, Larrazabal noted that VICOAP remains committed to making the country’s roads safer.
“Road tragedies have long been part of a silent epidemic that has gone ignored for far too long,” said Larrazabal. “People are losing life and limb for something that can be easily prevented with regular roadworthiness checks, and that is precisely why VICOAP was formed.”