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No immediate SC TRO on NCAP

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
No immediate SC TRO on NCAP
This file photo shows the Supreme Court compound in Padre Faura, Manila.
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas

MANILA, Philippines — Despite a petition for the suspension of the no contact apprehension program (NCAP), the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against its implementation.

Instead of immediately granting the request for TRO against the NCAP, the SC justices required the respondents to submit their comments on the petition for certiorari and prohibition with the urgent application for TRO that was filed by four transportation groups.

SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka yesterday said that respondents in the petition were ordered to submit their comments within 10 days from the day they received their copies of the notice.

He added that “no action yet taken on the prayer for TRO.”

According to Hosaka, the respondents mentioned in the petition were the City of Manila, Quezon City, Valenzuela City, Parañaque City, Muntinlupa City and the Land Transportation Office.

The SC official said the petitioners questioned “several local ordinances with regard to the implementation of the ‘no contact apprehension program.’”

The petitioners were the Kilusan sa Pagbabago ng Industriya ng Tranportasyon, Inc., Pasang Masda, Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization.

They filed their petition against the implementation of the NCAP last Aug. 3.

Motorists and vehicle owners have reportedly been complaining against the implementation of the NCAP and questioned the wisdom and appropriateness of some of its provisions, as well as the so-called “traps” in road signs and other factors that force motorists to commit violations.

Some legislators have called for the suspension and thorough review of the traffic policy.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers even called the implementation of the NCAP as “unconstitutional” because of its excessive fines.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Private-Public Partnership Center to review the underlying private-public partnership agreements entered into by some local government units (LGUs) implementing the NCAP.

This is not the first traffic policy that has been brought before the High Court.

Last year, the SC made public that it upheld the power of the MMDA to enforce measures to ease traffic congestion in the metropolis. The petitioners questioned the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program or the number coding scheme.

Traffic signal upgrade

The traffic signal upgrading system of the MMDA has no connection with NCAP, an official said. 
In an interview aired over One News’ The Chiefs, MMDA Traffic Engineering Center chief Neomie Recio said that the MMDA had started its upgrade of the traffic system way back in 2014.

“I want to clarify that the traffic signal upgrading system of the MMDA has no link to the NCAP of LGUs,” Recio said in Filipino.

She added that currently, the MMDA’s traffic system is “more sophisticated” and that they can control the traffic system without going to the site.

Recio also said they have talked to the NCAP provider of the LGUs, asking them to reconfigure their implementation of the policy.

“We asked [the provider] to reconfigure the way they apprehend the violations. They can set the program of the cameras, they can reconfigure them,” she bared.

In a separate interview aired at the Laging Handa briefing yesterday morning, MMDA Task Force Special Operations head Edison Nebrija said that the MMDA’s equipment for the policy is “in-house.”

“We own the cameras, the system, the employees who apprehend and review and we bring the summons to the motorists. We have our own traffic adjudication. Unlike the LGUs, which are third-party public-private-partnership project,” Nebrija said.

He added that issues regarding the NCAP of LGUs should be ironed out.

“We have to balance the discipline and the just implementation of our policy. I think the LGUs, the MMDA and the Land Transportation Office will meet about this,” he stated.

He also backed the NCAP, voicing hope that it will not be “killed off.”

“This is a very useful road safety tool, not only for the MMDA but for LGUs. This is part of what we call a smart city solution,” the official insisted, as he voiced support for a proposal pushing for the NCAP to be implemented nationwide. –  Ralph Edwin Villanueva

SC

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