LGUs in the Philippines

LGUs can’t seize drivers’ licenses during traffic violations – DOJ


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LGUs can’t seize drivers’ licenses during traffic violations – DOJ

A TRAFFIC officer from the Land Transportation Office uses the E-TOP or temporary operators permit for traffic violators and a body worn mobile camera device as it apprehends a driver along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezo0n City on February 6, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Only the Land Transportation Office and its deputized agents can confiscate licenses, while LGUs can only issue citation tickets, according to the legal opinion issued by the justice department

MANILA, Philippines – Local government units (LGUs) do not have the authority to confiscate the license of erring motorists, a justice department opinion says. 

The legal opinion issued on Monday, May 15, upholds the joint memorandum circular (JMC) of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which prohibits local government units (LGUs) from confiscating the licenses of erring drivers.

DILG Undersecretary for External, Legal, and Legislative Affairs Juan Victor Llamas sought the opinion of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on the issue. 

The question was: Does the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act 7160) empower LGUs to confiscate drivers’ licenses even if they are not deputized under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code (RA 4136)? 

Llamas also referred to Section 29 of RA 4136, which provides that the licenses of traffic violators can be taken away by enforcement and peace officers designated by the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

In response, Remulla said LGUs must accord “full consideration” of the guidelines under the 2008 joint memorandum circular of the two agencies, which have been reiterated in a DILG memo in September 2022. Those two documents provide that only the LTO and its deputized agents can confiscate drivers’ licenses. LGUs can only issue traffic citation tickets.

Remulla said in the legal opinion that authority vested in the LGUs under a general law like RA 7160 cannot take precedence over a special law like RA 4136, which specifically provides that only the LTO and its deputized agents can confiscate drivers’ licenses. 

“As between a general law and special law, the latter shall prevail – generalia specialibus non derogant (a general law does not nullify a specific or a special law),” Remulla explained. – Rappler.com

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