It’s been over a month after the May 9, 2022 national election. With the cessation of my election-related activities and as promised during my campaign for a Senate seat that win or lose, I will continue my crusade for the people’s cause.
Therefore, my Make Sense column for this issue is about my questions on the constitutionality and/or legality of the No Contact Traffic Apprehension policy of the Metro Manila Development Authority. Empowered by a resolution that was signed by the mayors of Metro Manila, the MMDA has been implementing NCTA for over two decades, with no legal challenge being raised against the traffic policy yet.
I am discussing the NCTA issue because many Filipinos are hurting in silence because of the inefficient, if not absurd, implementation of NCTA by the MMDA. I can personally attest to the disorganized implementation of MMDA’s NCTA because I am a victim of its flaws, not once but twice.
While renewing the registration of one of my cars at the Land Transportation Office—my third renewal of registration for the same car after two fast and hassle free renewals the previous years—I was told at LTO that I have to pay first the penalties for the traffic violation made by my drivers three years ago that was captured by an MMDA camera. Irritated, I hesitantly paid the penalty, even if the question of paying the penalty for the traffic violation of my driver kept bugging me. Then the same thing happened again during the registration renewal of my other car. I could have let the MMDA’s inefficiency—if not dereliction of duty—pass when I fell victim to this in my first car. But not with my second car, otherwise I will be condoning the shenanigans at MMDA. Imagine, I only learned of my driver’s traffic violation after three years! At a time when he was no longer working for me, and only during the third renewal of my car at LTO! Why did the LTO allow two years to pass before informing me about the traffic violation of my driver?
Thus, I listened aghast to the revelation of MMDA traffic chief Bong Nebrija in one of the episodes of our weekly radio program “Dito sa Bayan ni Juan” with former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile when we invited the MMDA chief as our resource person. Nebrija said that, unlike the cameras used in the US where they can capture photos of the driver, the MMDA cameras are not technically capable of doing that. Then why should the MMDA implement the NCTA when it is not technically capable of efficiently implementing the program? And why should the MMDA penalize the vehicle and not the driver who committed the violation? Is this not an absurd traffic policy? Lastly, why did it take the MMDA three years to inform the LTO about the violation? To make it even worse, why was I not informed, as registered owner of the car, by MMDA about the violation? It is for these reasons that I am seriously contemplating filing a case against MMDA.
To my knowledge, certain local government units in the National Capital Region have partnered with the private sector to implement their own version of NCTA. But with traffic enforcement being a government function, here are my questions: Can a mandated government function such as traffic enforcement be delegated to the private sector? Can the private sector collect traffic violation penalties based on a city council resolution? How much of the collected penalties go to private sector?
Dr. Jesus Lim Arranza is the chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries and Fight Illicit Trade; a broad-based, multisectoral movement intended to protect consumers, safeguard government revenues and shield legitimate industries from the ill effects of smuggling.