Transport groups ask SC to stop higher fines

Bea Cupin
Transport groups ask SC to stop higher fines
The groups want the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the order issued by the DOTC and its attached agencies

MANILA, Philippines – With a little over a week left before higher fines await errant motorists, transport groups are asking the Supreme Court (SC) to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against a joint administrative order issued by the transportation department and its attached agencies.

On June 3, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issued a joint administrative order (JAO) that introduced heftier fines for franchise violations, violations and fines connected to licenses, vehicle registration and operation, vehicle specifications, and other general provisions.

The JAO is set to kick in on June 19.

“Pending determination of the merits of this Petition, a write of preliminary prohibitory injunction or restraining order be issued enjoining or prohibiting respondent in implementing the subject joint administrative order,” according to a petition filed by several transport groups before the High Court on Tuesday, June 10.

The group eventually wants the SC to declare the order unconstitutional. Named as respondents in the case are DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, LTO Assistant Secretary Alfonso Tan, Jr., and LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez.

‘Excess of jurisdiction’

According to the petitioners represented by Stop and Go Transport Coalition president Jun Magno, Jr.. the DOTC, LTO and LTFRB “exercised grave abuse of discretion” in the issuance of the order because:

  • “there is no valid delegation of legislative power making the same unconstitutional;” 
  • the JAO was “vague and ambiguous;” 
  • and the JAO “violates due process making the same unconstitutional;”

In an interview with Rappler, DOTC spokesman Michael Sagcal addressed two of the 3 points raised by the coalition.

“It’s clear that under the DOTC’s charter, Congress has already delegated to the DOTC the task of creating [and enforcing] penalties and fines,” he said.

Part of Executive Order 125-A says the DOTC has the power and function to “establish and prescribe the corresponding rules and regulations for the enforcement of laws governing land transportation, air transportation and postal services, including the penalties for violations thereof, and for the deputation of appropriate law enforcement agencies in pursuance thereof.”

Sagcal also bellied claims that the department and its attached agencies denied the transport groups due process.

“Public consultations were held in different parts of the country,” he said, although adding that he was unsure if the petitioners themselves joined the consultations.

With the order, “colorum” or illegal public utility buses face a fine of P1 million for the first offense.

The order also sets higher sanctions for public buses, jeepneys, taxis, vans, sedans. Operators can be fined up to P15,000 for violations such as refusal to render service, overcharging, or “employing reckless, insolent, discourteous, or arrogant drivers.”

It’s an offshoot of a series of road accidents and complaints from commuters that eventually exposed expired franchises and other violations. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.