VEHICLE Inspection Center Operators Association of the Philippines (VICOAP), which covers a network of Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs) across the country, is slashing its testing fees while waiving its re-testing fees temporarily for the period of the pandemic. This decision, done by VICOAP in collaboration with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Congress, will help the struggling Filipino vehicle owner cope with the current economic stress while continuing to ensure road safety.
During the DOTr’s Thursday press conference, VICOAP President Iñigo Larrazabal said, “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.” At the same time, he acknowledged, “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. Working closely with Congress and the DOTR, we have, as a group, agreed to operate at a loss and lower the fees.”
The lowered testing fees—P600 for light vehicles; P500 for motorcycles; and P300 for PUJs—along with the waiver of the retesting fees will mean an operating loss for the PMVIC owners.
While acknowledging that this will not be easy, Larrazabal maintained that the VICOAP stands by its commitment to the country to provide road safety: “Our work in PMVICs goes beyond compliance and regulation. This is about saving lives. No one can mandate us to save other people’s lives; this is our moral obligation to make sure that our vehicles are safe not just for our families, but that we don’t pose a threat to others on the road. “
During the presscon, Joebert Bolaños, Chairperson of the Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO), said that his organization is likewise collaborating with the PMVICs and the government to ensure that, despite lowered rates, the safety of the driver, passengers, and all other parties is protected.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Leo Olarte, President of Clean Air Philippines Movement Incorporated (CAPMI), urged the government to look at road accidents which he said is a pressing problem. “Yearly ito nangyayari, yung classic road accidents. As a doctor I can sympathize with the victims,” said Dr. 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.”
During the Congressional hearing for the Committee on Transportation last Wednesday, Committee Chair Rep. Edgar Sarmiento spoke about finding a balance between the peoples’ current economic trials and the pressing issue of road safety. First, he asked the PMVIC owners to waive the testing fees: “I-regalo lang muna natin sa mga mamamayan. Can you do that for this country?”
At the same time, he maintained Congress’ position: “We are here to help a project that is very laudable.”
Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo said that the damage and injury caused by road accidents have negative long-term effects on the Filipino family and the surrounding community. She gave as an example a 2018 incident in the Batasan Hills where a truck’s brake failures 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 Rep. Castelo. “Maiiwasan natin ang aksidente at kamatayan ng ating mga kababayan.”
“Road tragedies have long been part of a silent epidemic that has gone ignored for far too long,” agreed 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.”
Despite the recently reduced fees, Larrazabal said that VICOAP remains steadfast to their vision of providing road safety to the public.
“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. VICOAP will stand with the government to promote and strengthen that cause.“