Metro Manila mayors on Wednesday insisted on carrying out the no-contact apprehension program (NCAP) despite mounting opposition from motorists and transport groups, some of which have filed a petition before the Supreme Court to challenge the policy.
“We, the undersigned local chief executives, have joined together on a common stance to continue the implementation of NCAP within our respective territorial jurisdictions,” the mayors said in a joint statement Wednesday.
They denied that the system denies due process to motorists since local governments have their traffic adjudication boards where they can contest their violations.
“We, therefore, collectively urge all relevant government agencies to stand with us in pursuing and continuously innovating this international-proven program for effective traffic management,” they said.
The statement was signed by Valenzuela City Mayor Wes Gatchalian, Parañaque City Mayor Eric Olivarez, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna, and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora.
Transport groups have asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against local ordinances related to the NCAP in five cities in Metro Manila.
The chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said he supported the NCAP being enforced by local government units in the National Capital Region.
In a one-page “statement of solidarity,” Dimayuga said his agency “fully supports NCAP which is being implemented by some Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) and stands in solidarity with them in this respect.”
He said empirical evidence clearly showed that the MMDA’s own version of the policy was and continues to be an effective force multiplier to its traffic enforcers on the ground and has, in fact, raised public awareness on and compliance with existing traffic laws, rules and regulations.
The Land Transportation Office earlier asked local chief executives to suspend temporarily and review NCAP to clarify the guidelines of the traffic policy.
This was after the LTO received numerous complaints from public utility vehicle operators about being charged fines for the traffic violations of their drivers.
At the House of Representatives, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers also sought a congressional inquiry into the NCAP.
Barbers said he also received reports and complaints from motorists, particularly motorcycle drivers engaged in delivery services, who were penalized with enormous fees “without due process of law.”
The MMDA stated the NCAP has been effective in catching illegally parked vehicles and other traffic violations with the help of closed circuit television cameras, digital cameras and other handheld devices.
The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on ways and means on Thursday called out the Land Transportation Office for its “seemingly 180-degree turn from calling for a suspension of the no-contact apprehension policy (NCAP) to just letting LGUs do as they wish with it.”
“Some 24 hours ago, the Land Transportation Office was calling for a suspension of the NCAP by arguing that we need guidelines first, before we implement such a drastic and problematic policy change,” Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said.
“Today, suddenly, the LTO says, LGUs can do as they please, and they will just craft guidelines, but perhaps these guidelines will be optional,” he added.
Salceda was referring to the statement of LTO Chief Assistant Secretary Teofilo Guadiz III that the NCAP was “proprietary to LGU as an autonomous body.”
“May I remind the LTO that as an attached office of the Department of Transportation, its constituency is the transport sector, which this policy is hurting, and not the local government units,” Salceda said.
“And besides, to say that the question is a matter of LGU jurisdiction is a gross simplification of the problems behind NCAP. Number one, some LGUs delegate the duty to a third-party from the private sector.
There are serious questions of legality and constitutionality in that regard, especially since traffic apprehension is a penalty, not a service that can be delegated via public-private partnership.”
“Second, there remains the issue of whether the penalties under NCAP, especially absent a clear and simple adjudication process, are not confiscatory. To a transport sector worker who doesn’t earn much from being on the road every day, but is at greatest risk of this, it certainly looks confiscatory.”
“Third, the NCAP imposes duties for which there are not yet any equivalent rights articulated. Is there a right to dispute?
A right to a clear apprehension? A procedure for appealing the penalty on account of capacity to pay? There are none.”
“So, please, don’t tell me that the simple answer is, it’s LGU’s turf.
There are serious questions of constitutionality and legality here that are well within the scope and authority of national policy.”
Salceda added that, on top of his House Bill 3423, which enshrines a bill of rights for motorists to protect them from being infringed upon by policies such as NCAP, he will be filing a resolution with the committee on transportation and the committee on local government calling for hearings in aid of legislation to determine the legality of the NCAP.
“I hope the LTO will stick it out for its core constituency in the process of crafting guidelines for NCAP. Its recent statements erode the confidence of ordinary motorists that they will be fair and will protect motorist rights,” he said.