Malacañang said that while President Duterte had made the motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) non-mandatory, the MVIS was still required in the registration of vehicles, but the rates for the inspection would not increase.
At the same time, the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center owners have agreed to collaborate with the Department of Transportation and the House of Representatives to lower their testing fees and waive their retesting fees for the year.
In a press conference initiated by the DOTr, Vehicle Inspection Center Operators Association of the Philippines (VICOAP) President Iñigo Larrazabal said: “In the same way that we responded to the first call of the government about road worthiness and made the investment without hesitation, we continue to believe that this is a good and worthy program.”
In Malacañang, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said private motor vehicle inspection centers agreed to “operate at a loss” by lowering their inspection rates and suspending the collection of reinspection fees for a year.
In the Senate, Senator Grace Poe said “Appeals are good but decisive action is better,” as she called on the leadership of the DOTr and LTO to officially suspend the implementation of their issuances on the privatized Motor Vehicle Inspection System immediately pending thorough review and stakeholder consultation.
Poe, chair of the Senate Public Services committee, said the fees were set by the Department and LTO’s own issuances.
“It is the department’s own Department Order 2018-019 which stated that the “DOTr, through the LTO shall issue guidelines for Authorization of PMVIC which shall include… inspection base fees,” said Poe.
Further, the senator noted that in a subsequent Memorandum Circular 2019-009, the DOTr itself said that “inspection fees shall be determined after public consultation conducted by the DOTr in coordination with LTO and LTFRB”.
“A temporary suspension of fees only begs the question: Why do motorists need to shoulder the burden of the new system?”
The President had ordered the suspension of the implementation of the MVIS following complaints of some solons and sectors regarding its expensive charge on the yearly vehicle registration.
But Roque said private motorists still have to submit an emission clearance or MVIS when registering their vehicles.
“ While the President said that the Motor Vehicle Inspection should not be implemented, private vehicle owners should still submit either the emission clearance or the MVIS,” he said.
The Palace official welcomed the operators of private motor vehicle inspection centers for going with the rate of P600, the same as the emission test.
“For P600,while there is a pandemic, your vehicle will be subject to 73 roadworthy inspection checks,” he said.
The Department of Transportation on February 11 urged private vehicle inspection centers to lower their fees.
The implementation of the MVIS has faced criticism due to supposed malpractice, calibration errors, and other undesirable occurrences.
In a statement, the PMVIC said “we have as a group agreed to lower our fees during this pandemic. The new fees are as follows: P600 for light vehicles; P500 for motorcycles; and P300 for public utility jeepneys.
“We understand fully that given today’s economic climate, many Filipinos are struggling financially. Many have lost their jobs while others are struggling to change industries. We understand that the added cost of vehicle inspections will be difficult for many.”
While acknowledging that MVICs are not mandated for vehicle registration, Larrazabal said, “Our work in PMVICs goes beyond compliance and regulation. This is about saving lives.”
“No one can mandate us to save other people’s lives; this is our moral obligation to make sure that our vehicles are safe not just for our families, but that we don’t pose a threat to others on the road.”
LTO Asec. Edgar Galvante agreed with Larrazabal that the “primordial concern right now is safety,” adding his organization “will work closely and extend their assistance” to the MVICs to prioritize this concern.
The DOTr and the VICOAP’s decision was a response to the during Friday’s Congressional hearing of the Committee on Transportation where Committee Chair Rep. Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Quezon CIty Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo, and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Macapagal Arroyo appealed to PMVIC owners to help motorists who are currently financially struggling.
Sarmiento said it would relieve many Filipinos if the retesting fees were reconsidered.
He added that the request to PMVICs to waive the retesting fees was part of the “birth pains” in forming a lasting solution to the problem of road accidents that have been costing lives and damaging property.
Rep. Sarmiento also expressed support of the PMVICs: “‘We are here to help a project that is very laudable.”
Deputy Speaker Marcoleta said that the critics of the DOTr, the LTO, and the PMVICs should give them a chance to “answer the questions.”
The committee was asking them to clarify their position and should not “castigate them. I am not making a prejudgment. Let us give them a chance to speak.”
Throughout the committee hearing in Congress, several representatives spoke out supporting the thrust for road safety through road worthiness.
Castelo recalled an instance in 2018 where a truck had crashed due to a brake failure in Batasan Hills, resulting in fatalities.
“I’d like to zero in on the 12,000 deaths. This is why we are doing this...To make the protocols stricter,” said Arroyo, recalling his traumatic accident from a car collision; the driver of the other vehicle died and findings later showed that the accident was caused by its worn-out wheels and brakes.
Arroyo also appealed to the DOTr to “fast-track the implementation” of the PMVICs, and to assist those who had already been given permits to operate.
Motorcycle Rights Organization Chairperson Jobert Bolaños welcomed collaboration with the PMVICs and the government.
The PMVICs reached out to MRO, “and we are working with the owners on their system and processes to make sure everything is done right, fair, and proper for all vehicles, including the two-wheeled ones.”
Meanwhile, Clean Air Philippines Movement Incorporated (CAPMI) President, Dr. Leo Olarte, equated vehicular accidents to an epidemic that should be addressed.
He maintained, “About 80 percent of the air pollution in our country, especially in Metro Manila, comes from unmaintained vehicles. Road accidents happen every year.
“As a doctor, I can sympathize with their victims. Let us help mitigate the pain as we fight an equally urgent emergency.”
With over 12,000 Filipinos tragically losing their lives annually to road accidents, the second leading cause of which is mechanical failure, the government’s PMVIC program seeks to bolster road safety in the Philippines by ensuring only roadworthy vehicles are allowed on the road.
PMVICs check for over 60 different indicators, including brakes, lights, wheel alignment, and more, to assess whether or not a vehicle is roadworthy.
In the past, motor vehicles were only required to comply with a single mandatory emissions test, which alone cannot guarantee people’s safety on the road.
These tests to ensure public safety become more urgent as the number of land-based vehicles increases. There are more than 12 million vehicles registered under the LTO, while there are currently 19 million motorbike owners.
Larrazabal noted that while it was important to consider today’s economic circumstances, it was also crucial to address the “silent” epidemic of road accidents that has plagued the country for decades.
“Even with the lockdown, there was no significant drop in the number of car accidents. That just shows that it is time to take action and do something about,” said Larrazabal.
“That is why VICOAP was formed. No Filipino deserves to lose their life for something that can easily be prevented.”
Poe said that just as the DOTr was insisting that it was within its powers to set this whole PMVIC running, it was also within its power to address the issue of cost and all other issues hounding the privatized MVIS.
The issues on legality of the privatization of MVIS, Poe added, lack of consultation and transparency in the accreditation of inspection centers, inadequate number of inspection centers in operation, glitches in the system, and the overall incompatibility of PMVICs with LTO’s own IT system and the landscape of motor vehicles in the country, all remained unresolved without decisive action from the Department.
“We thus welcome the decision of the President to join the Senate Committee on Public Services in its call to immediately suspend the flawed system,” she added.
While the intent of making all vehicles roadworthy is good, she said, it must be done properly according to procedure and with more reasonable parameters.
“We all want safer roads but not at the expense of burdening the motoring public,” Poe said.