Controversy hounds new MMDA traffic ticketing scheme

- Nikko Dizon -
Just on its first day of implementation, the new traffic ticketing system of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is already being hounded by controversy and opposition.

Leaders of various transport groups that expressed support for the Metropolitan Traffic Ticket (MTT) scheme said yesterday they are seriously considering bringing to court the local government untis (LGUs) that refuse to adopt the single ticketing system.

For its part, the Makati City government, which is using its own Ordinance Violation Receipt (OVR), said the MMDA "is not being totally honest with the motoring public" when it said driver’s licenses will no longer be confiscated.

Jun Magno, president of the Confederation of FX Hi-Lander/AUVs Operators and Drivers Association, Inc. (COFHAODA), said that the stand of some LGUs has prompted the transport groups to consider a lawsuit.

"We have no other recourse. The LGUs would not recognize it, but it is provided for in the MMDA Charter. The justice department has also issued an opinion saying that the single ticketing system can be implemented by the MMDA," Magno said.

Among those who are thinking of joining the lawsuit are Pasang Masda, tricycle group Tinig ng Organisadong Driver at Operator sa Pilipinas (TODA), and the Metro Manila Bus Operators’ Association (MMBOA).

Pasang Masda’s Obet Martin said the MTT is a convenient and efficient system that works for both the government and the motorists.

The transport leaders complained of the cumbersome procedure of license confiscation and redemption, and the steep fines imposed by the LGUs.

Aside from Makati, other localities implementing their own ticketing system are Pateros, Navotas, Malabon, and Pasig.

MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando appealed to the Metro Manila mayors to consider the MTT.

But in a statement, the Makati City government effectively shot down Fernando’s plea when a city official said the MMDA will not be allowed to implement the MTT in the financial district.

Moreover, Herminigildo San Miguel, director of the city’s public safety department, said in the statement that contrary to the MMDA’s claim that erring motorists can keep their licenses under the MTT, its guidelines state otherwise.

San Miguel cited Section 11 of the MTT guidelines that "allow MMDA traffic enforcers to confiscate licenses of drivers who have unsettled fines/accounts, recidivists, or those who have committed violations that warrant license confiscation in accordance with the schedule of fines and penalties."

Sought for comment, MMDA Traffic Operations Center (TOC) Executive Director Angelito Vergel de Dios stressed that the agency has not been dishonest with the public.

"The MTT’s general rule is the driver’s license is no longer confiscated to curb corruption and offer a convenient system for the motorists. But the confiscation and revocation of licenses is still inherent in the MMDA because it is specified in our Charter enacted by Congress," Vergel de Dios said.

The MMDA official said that the agency will confiscate driver’s licenses only in instances mentioned in Section 11 of the guidelines.

San Miguel also reminded that the MMDA cannot impose its traffic management system on LGUs because "it is merely a coordinating body and has no authority to pass ordinances."

"This was the ruling of the Supreme Court. The Local Government Court also says that only the local governments have the authority to regulate traffic in their jurisdiction," San Miguel said, citing a high court’s decision that stated the MMDA is not a political unit but an administrative agency attached to the Office of the President.

San Miguel said this means the MMDA has no legislative powers and thus cannot enact ordinances and resolutions.

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