MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed a petition assailing an order of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) that increased penalties for traffic violations.
The appellate court’s 10th Division junked the petition filed by 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK) against LTO Department Order No. 2008-39, entitled “Revised Schedule of LTO Fines and Penalties for Traffic and Administrative Violations.”
The LTO order, which came into effect in March 2009, imposed higher penalties for errant motorists. It included penalties of P1,500 for driving without a license; P400 for driving with an expired license; P2,000 for possessing a fake driver’s license; P3,000 for conviction for a crime perpetrated with the use of a motor vehicle; and P6,000 for driving a public utility vehicle out of line.
The petition filed by 1-UTAK sought the reversal of the 2013 ruling issued by the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court, which denied the petition for injunction filed by the group to stop the implementation of the LTO order.
The group had argued that the higher penalties were unreasonable and cut into the income of public utility vehicle operators, which ranged from P100 to P500 per day.
They also said that the LTO order usurped the power of Congress to tax.
But the CA dismissed 1-UTAK’s arguments, affirming the constitutionality of the LTO order and ruling that it was a valid exercise of the state’s police power to ensure the safety of passengers by imposing higher penalties on errant drivers and operators.
“There exists no absolute right to drive. On the contrary, it is a privilege heavily regulated,” the CA said.
The appellate court also said the higher fees did not deprive public utility vehicle drivers and operators of their livelihood, as long as they follow traffic rules and regulations.
“They have not been deprived of any right at all, nor their earnings decreased. They are merely being required, just like the rest of the public, to observe propriety and utmost caution on the roads,” the CA said.
It added, “And to this Court, the safety of the commuting public and pedestrians alike on our public thoroughfares far outweighs the pecuniary costs raised by appellant 1-UTAK , more so when these costs emanate from the reprehensible conduct of the drivers and operators of public utility vehicles themselves.”
The CA also noted that the last adjustment for traffic fines was made more than 15 years ago.
Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles penned the 17-page decision, with Associate Justices Mariflor Punzalan Castillo and Florito Macalino concurring. – Rappler.com