Know the difference: Which agencies manage roads and road users?
MANILA, Philippines – Maintaining good road conditions, putting up street signs, and going after those who violate traffic rules: these are just some of the things the government needs to do to help ensure road users in the Philippines are safe.
One may think the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is solely responsible for this, but road safety is a multi-agency responsibility, with different government departments having their specific roles and functions. For instance, the transportation department and its attached agencies are usually responsible for enforcing road rules and regulations, while it's the public works department that takes charge of the engineering aspect of road management.
Do you know the difference between the functions and responsibilities of the different agencies governing our roads?
Land Transportation Office (LTO)
The LTO is the agency in charge of the issuance of driver's licenses and permits. It administers the exam needed before motorists can get behind the wheel. If a motorist incurs a violation, the LTO can cancel or revoke his or her license.
The LTO is also in charge of registering motor vehicles nationwide and issuing vehicle license plates. The fees collected for motor vehicle registrations include the motor vehicle user's charge (MVUC), used by the Road Board to fund certain projects.
The LTO is also involved in the enforcement of traffic rules and regulations, with the authority to confiscate drivers' licenses. It can also tap personnel from other agencies to enforce traffic rules, but only those deputized by the LTO are authorized to confiscate licenses.
Apprehended motorists can settle their cases or contest the violations in the LTO regional or district office specified in the temporary operator's permit (TOP), which will be issued to the apprehended driver or operator.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA)
While the MMDA is best known for its role in managing traffic, it has a host of other responsibilities as well. Functions under its jurisdiction include those "which have metro-wide impact and transcend local political boundaries" in the capital region.
Aside from its role of transport and traffic management – such as catching traffic violators or clearing side streets to improve the flow of traffic – the MMDA also has functions in solid waste disposal and management, flood control programs, health and sanitation programs, and public safety programs, such as disaster relief operations.
MMDA traffic enforcers generally cannot confiscate a driver's license, unless the driver was involved in a traffic accident, has accumulated 3 or more violations, or has been apprehended for violations such as overspeeding or counterflowing, among others.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)
While the LTO is in charge of drivers' licenses and motor vehicle registrations, the LTFRB's jurisdiction covers vehicles used for public conveyance. It issues certificates of public convenience or permits to public land transportation services – from jeeps, taxis, buses, as well as the new transport network vehicle services like Uber and Grab.
It is also in charge of regulating and adjusting fares for public transport services, and prescribing or regulating the routes or areas of operation for these services.
If a commuter has a complaint against a rude taxi driver, buses that figure in crashes, or other public transport vehicles incurring violations, it's the LTFRB that conducts investigation and hearings.
In such cases, the LTFRB can mete out penalties such as cancelling franchises. It can also ask the LTO to revoke the licenses of the drivers involved in the traffic violations.
Philippine National Police - Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG)
In an effort to ease the worsening congestion in one of the metro's busiest thoroughfare, the PNP-HPG returned to direct traffic on EDSA in 2015, manning 6 chokepoints with especially heavy traffic.
Authorities said then that the presence of the highway police might be more effective in deterring would-be traffic violators. Unlike the MMDA, the HPG can chase after and arrest traffic violators on the spot.
Aside from helping direct traffic, one of the HPG's main functions is to go after carnapping cases.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
As the engineering and construction arm of the government, it is the DPWH which takes care of planning and implementing infrastructure projects such as the construction of national roads and bridges. It is also involved in the maintenance of national roads, while local roads are under the jurisdiction of local government units.
The DPWH has to abide by standards in designing roads and other infrastructure to make sure these are safe for all road users. This includes standardizing road signs and pavement markings to comply with international safety standards, as well as removing road hazards or relocating lampposts, electric poles, or other objects that can affect motorists' safety.
The DPWH used to maintain the Traffic Accident Recording and Analysis System (TARAS) to identify blackspots where most road crashes occur. The TARAS was established in 2004 to collect road crash data from reports by the Philippine National Police.
But it was discontinued in 2013, with the DPWH citing the "very low" confidence level in the quality of data and the logistical challenge of training and re-training PNP officers collecting the road crash data.
"Since being introduced in 2004, there have been no improvement in data quality of TARAS nor the primary issue of limited coverage on national roads has been addressed and it is unlikely under the current process that the data will be of sufficient coverage or quality to generate reliable statistics at the regional level," the DPWH said in a 2013 department order.
The Road Board was created through Republic Act 8794, which also mandated the collection of MVUC for the maintenance of roads.
The Road Board is tasked with the management and use of special funds sourced from the proceeds of the MVUC: the Special Road Support Fund, Special Local Road Fund, Special Road Safety Fund, and Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund.
It is composed of 7 members from the DPWH, Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and 3 members from transport and motorist organizations.
The Road Board manages the use of funds for projects submitted by the DPWH and the DOTr, based on the 4 special funds. But the Road Board has long been hounded by allegations of inefficiency and corruption, with the funds prone to misuse and politicization. This has led to repeated calls over the years for the Road Board's abolition.
Of the 4 special funds, the Special Road Support Fund makes up 80% of the MVUC collections, used for road maintenance of national roads. The Special Local Road Fund and the Special Road Safety Fund, meanwhile, are used for the maintenance of local roads, and the installation of traffic signs, pavement markings, and road safety devices. – Rappler.com
In the Philippines, an average of more than 600 children died from road crash incidents from 2006 to 2015. Seat belts can save lives but infants and children need a more specific type of car seats for them in case of a road mishap.
Want to know more about child safety car seats? Here are some stories:
Learn more about Rappler's road safety campaign by visiting the #SaferRoadsPH microsite.