MMDA suspends own no-contact apprehension after SC stop order

MMDA suspends own no-contact apprehension after SC stop order
Colorful traditional jeepneys along with their modernized versions wait for passengers at the corner of EDSA and Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City on Aug. 30, 2022.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said it suspended its own no-contact apprehension policy after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the NCAPs implemented by a number of local government units.

This comes after the Supreme Court issued a stop order on the implementation of the NCAPs in the wake of petitions filed against the controversial program which has been hit by transport groups and motorists. 

At a press briefing Wednesday morning, MMDA spokesperson Cris Sarruca Jr. said that the MMDA sought a meeting with the Office of the Solicitor General given that it is not indicated among the respondents in the Supreme Court's TRO.

"There's a lot we need to find out, whether or not we should intervene in the petition. So we're going to be asking for advice on our next steps first," he said in mixed Filipino and English.  

"We respect the local authority of our local government units. So they have their own ordinances and their own versions of the NCAP."

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka explained to reporters that while the MMDA is not named a respondent in the petitions, it was covered by the Temporary Restraining Order. Part of the TRO made public on Wednesday read:

Now, therefore, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, You, respondents City of Manila, Quezon City, Valenzuela City, Parañaque City, Muntinlupa City, Land Transportation Office, your agents, representatives or persons acting for and on your behalf, are hereby commanded and directed to cease and desist from implementing MMDA Resolution NO. 16-01, s. 2016 and all ordinances subject of these petitions.

Sarruca said that the MMDA's own NCAP had been around since 1995 and was only recently reimplemented under the Duterte administration in 2016. 

He added that the MMDA deployed just 901 enforcers on the roads for Wednesday without the advanced CCTV cameras to serve as a “force multiplier.” 

Over at Laging Handa, Sarruca said that the MMDA would have to re-adjust its deployment of enforcers to make up for the gaps in traffic management. 

Every area that had CCTVs under the NCAP will see an influx of enforcers, he said, including EDSA, C5, Commonwealth, Quezon Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, and Macapagal Boulevard. 

"The issues are on the amounts for penalties and the procedures, so that's what we'll have to talk about moving forward," he said. 

"We hope that we can maintain the driver discipline even after the suspension of the NCAP, because that helps all of us," he also said, addressing motorists. 

The MMDA's traffic engineering center is also conducting a study on where to install motorcycle lanes to maintain order for riders and avoid violations should the NCAP be re-implemented. 

Earlier, Metro Manila mayors implementing the NCAP in their localities said the policy "resulted in" the "minimization of human intervention in traffic enforcement," which they claimed eliminated corruption, created a culture of discipline among motorists, and reduced traffic violations. 

The Supreme Court set oral arguments for the petitions questioning the NCAP on January 24, 2023. — with reports from News5/Gerard de la Peña

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