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Salceda: Why are private firms collecting NCAP fines?

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Salceda: Why are private firms collecting NCAP fines?
Motorists drive through various intersections in Cubao, Quezon City on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. The Metro Manila Development Authority is set to upgrade the traffic control system in Metro Manila that operates based on an intersection's volume of vehicles.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The no-contact apprehension policy being carried out by the private sector through private-public partnerships (PPPs) is putting the NCAP’s legality in question, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said yesterday.

While PPPs are legal, several questions are raised on PPPs being used by local government units (LGUs) for NCAP implementation, according to Salceda.

He noted that the imposition of fines and penalties, for instance, could not be delegated by the government to private companies as in the case of some LGUs implementing the NCAP.

“Can law enforcement be the subject of a PPP? There appears to be no legal precedent for the exercise of the police power by a private enterprise on behalf of the state, and it would appear to contradict the established doctrine of the state’s monopoly of force,” he said.

The lawmaker underscored that the apprehension of traffic violators is “the exercise of the police power of the state.”

“That is originally a legislative power, delegated to the executive branch for implementation, but it cannot be delegated further to private companies,” he said.

Salceda also maintained that “police power involves the power of force and force is the monopoly of the state.”

Because of this, he pointed out that “it cannot be the subject of a commercial agreement between the state and the private sector.”

Fines, penalties questioned

Salceda also questioned if the fines and penalties imposed under the NCAP are consistent with the law. He cited Section 130 of the Local Government Code, which stipulates that charges cannot be “unjust, excessive, oppressive or confiscatory.”

It also states that revenues collected under the code shall “inure solely to the benefit of, and be subject to the disposition by, the local government unit levying the tax, fee, charge or other imposition.”

The lawmaker revealed that the “typical arrangement of revenue-sharing” between the private company and LGUs is 70-30, “in favor of the private operator.”

Under the NCAP, motorists are slapped with a fine of P2,000 for the first offense, P3,000 (second offense) and P4,000 (third offense) for disobedience to traffic control signals and signs, obstruction of pedestrian lanes, driving on yellow box, overspeeding, non-wearing of helmet for motorcycle riders and disregard to lane markings.

Fines of P3,000 for the first offense, P4,000 (second offense) and P5,000 (third offense) are imposed on violators who commit counter-flow, reckless driving and non-wearing of seatbelts.

Data privacy

Salceda also warned that the NCAP must conform with the Data Privacy Act and other supplementary guidelines since it is being implemented using closed-circuit television or CCTVs.

Such guidelines include the National Privacy Commission Advisory 2020-04, or the Guidelines on the Use of CCTVs, especially because private companies operate the CCTVs, and not the government under “lawful surveillance” clauses.

The NCAP is violative of Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution because violations cannot be disputed by motorists, denying them of due process of law, according to Salceda.

“There should also have been extensive consultation before the PPPs were set into motion. That is required under PPP Governing Board Resolution 2016-06-02,” he said.

He added that this is a “dangerous precedent on privacy.”

“If it can exercise the pretense of ‘lawful surveillance,’ that’s a very slippery slope toward other activities that are violative of laws on privacy, by private companies. They can invoke the PPP to monitor anybody’s activities on the road,” Salceda said.

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