Proper Towing Procedures
MOTORING TODAY - Rey Gamboa () - January 21, 2004 - 12:00am
I got hold of a copy of a signed MMDA Resolution (with eleven [11] mayors signing) No. 02-33 dated August 29, 2002 "Approving and Adopting the Revised MMDA Guidelines for Towing and Impounding Operations in Metro Manila" and allow me to lift some of the items and provisions in the resolution, which I think could help out motorists, some of whom have written us, who would want to be informed on the proper procedures to guide them through in the event that they find themselves in such situations. These guidelines are in effect not unless otherwise superseded by new ones.

To begin with, "stalled" and "illegally parked vehicles" are to be towed and impounded by virtue of existing Metro Manila Council and Metro Manila Development Authority Ordinances.

In the resolution, "Stalled Vehicle" is defined as any motor vehicle and/or its attachments, which for any cause, is unable to proceed under its own motive power and is on a public road, street or thoroughfare and dilapidated/junked vehicle in Metro Manila.

"Illegally Parked Vehicle"
refers to one which is parked in areas prohibited by law or ordinance for parking purposes or those designated by the MMDA and or the local government units (LGUs) as No Parking areas or zones:
1. All National roads in Metro Manila.
2. In primary and secondary roads of cities and municipalities in Metro Manila:
a) Within six (6) meters of any intersection or curved lane.
b) Within four (4) meters of driveways or entrances to any fire station, hospital, clinic and other similar establishments.
c) Within four (4) meters of hydrants.
d) On the roadside of any illegally parked vehicle.
e) On pedestrian crosswalks.
f) In front of any authorized driveway.
g) On the sidewalks, paths and alleys not intended for parking.
h) At the foot or near bridges.
i) At any place where official signs have been erected prohibiting parking and/or declared No Parking Zone by the MMDA or provided by law or ordinances.

Now according to the resolution, "all towing services must be registered with the MMDA annually. The MMDA shall issue numbered stickers to tow trucks. Tow trucks must be in excellent running condition and must be equipped radios/cell phones, towing bar, spare tire, chain block with belt lifter, jack and tire wrench, fire extinguisher, blinker and hazard light, tool box, two (2) units of reflector zed early warning device and a signboard to be installed at the rear of the towed vehicle indicating that it is being towed."

It is important to know what standard equipment the tow truck in order to know if the one towing you it is indeed a legitimate one.

Now here are other important provisions of the resolution that a motorist should know in order to protect one’s rights and property in case such a "towable" situation arises.

"The towing company/agency, whether private or government shall be held responsible for losses/damages incurred while towing the vehicles."

"Attended illegally parked vehicles shall not be towed but the driver shall be immediately issued a TVR."

"Unattended illegally parked vehicle shall be towed and issued a TVR immediately upon arrival at the impounding area."

"Flat-tired vehicle must be moved to the emergency lane on its own, if not, it will be towed. In either case, TVR will be issued."

"Changing of flat tires on the roadway is not allowed."

"Stalled or illegally parked vehicle as a result of empty fuel tank, may be towed to the nearest gasoline station, however, the towing fee should be paid to the tow truck in accordance with the number of kilometers from the point of origin to the gasoline station and a TVR shall be issued to the driver."

"Stalled or illegally parked vehicle as a result of engine trouble shall be towed in cases where the driver deliberately refuses to remove his vehicle or cannot move his vehicle due to the absence of equipment, etc. or to circumstances beyond his control, and a TVR shall be issued to the driver."

"Illegally parked vehicles that are already clamped to the tow truck shall not be subject for intercession by the owner of the vehicle or by the representatives of the company’s tow truck."

"If the vehicle is unattended, the tow truck driver shall blow the truck’s horn five (5) times twice in a row with a space of 1 minute in between. If the owner does not respond, the vehicle shall be towed."

"Before actual towing, if the owner is around, the tow truck crew shall issue a Technical Inspection Report indicating the name of the owner, vehicle’s plate number, type and color, including the accessories thereof, and a description of the vehicle’s condition. In case the owner/driver is not in the premises of the vehicle, the notice shall be left/entrusted to any traffic officer on duty at the site, or to any responsible person who can give the notice to the owner."

"If the tow truck has no authority to operate, towing service in Metro Manila, the towing incident shall be considered an unlawful or illegal act, and the tow truck operator shall be charged for colorum operation. The traffic enforcer shall issue a TVR to the tow truck operator through the driver for such violation and shall impound said tow truck."

There are procedures to be followed from the start of the towing operation, which would require the tow truck crew to report to the nearest MMDA METROBASE and wait for a go signal from the same metrobase saying, "you are cleared to tow".

"Appropriate charges of carnapping shall be filed against the tow truck owner/operator, whose tow trucks are registered but failed to report the on-going towing operation or whose tow trucks are not registered with the MMDA/local government concerned."

The above provision is very important and should be kept in mind by all motorists, especially if they are being hustled for a bribe by a tow truck crew. The first thing to do is to determine if the tow truck is legitimate, authorized and registered with the MMDA or the local government unit concerned.

I hope the above information would prove to be valuable to our motorists.

I have some personal misgivings though about a particular provision of this resolution regarding the issuance of TVRs to drivers whose vehicles have flat tires. I think this provision can only be fair if all the streets and roads of the Metro Manila are maintained spotlessly clean and free of debris. As it is, the metro roads’ cleanliness are obviously and visibly wanting.
Who’s Causing The Backlog?
Many buyers of brand-new vehicles who have been complaining against their auto manufacturer or dealer for the much-delayed release of their plates have been barking up the wrong tree. After receiving numerous complaints in this column from exasperated motorists who are being perennially harassed by traffic enforcers (some are actually just doing their job, while some apparently for a couple of a hundred reasons) for not having plates on their vehicles, I did some asking around only to find out that neither the manufacturers nor the dealers are the ones at fault.

Through our investigation, the backlog seems to be created somewhere between the customs and the LTO. If I shall remove malice from my mind the reason for the backlog is purely bureaucratic red tape — these two government agencies just cannot put their act together or some operational policies or procedures are amiss. It has just something to do with COPs or Certificate of Payment of taxes from the BOC to be transmitted to the LTO — all a matter of agreeing on what copy one should send the other. But some tongues are wagging that a few bucks change hands for every document pulled out from the enormous heap to be expedited — and we are talking of thousands of units.

But I shall keep my faith in these two government agencies and not allow myself to be scandalized by such unfounded allegations. However, may I just implore you to do something about this issue, which if left to where it is may just turn out to another mess — a bomb that may explode in your faces. The motoring public is already getting to be impatient.

I have promised some of those who have written us about this problem and some of our friends in the industry that I shall stay on with the issue until it is resolved — all in the spirit of public service.

So, guys from the Bureau of Customs and the Land Transportation Office — let’s go for it and get our acts together for the sake of our suffering motorists.

Happy Motoring!!!

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