The Great Debate

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It looks like we’re in for another great debate between government transport authorities on one hand and public transport groups and associations, as well as commuter safety advocates, on the other.

The topic of debate: Government’s proposed guidelines and policies for privatizing the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) are fair, feasible, and aboveboard.

Taking the affirmative side on this topic is the Department of Transportation (DOTr). 

Taking the negative side is the National Public Transport Coalition or NPTC, which claims to represent transport organizations from tricycle drivers and operators to buses and trucks and is led by none other than lawyer Ariel Inton, founder and president of the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection.

The negative side was first to present arguments to the public as outlined in a manifesto that said: “While we support the government’s initiatives on public utility vehicle program using the Motor Vehicle Inspection System, we fervently oppose its policies on privatization of MVIS for common carriers and the use of Euro 4 standards as an MVIS criteria.”

According to the negative side, under government’s proposals to privatize the MVIS, private owners would have to pay P600 to get their motorcycles tested and P1,800 for private cars. MVIS fees for common carriers like jeepneys, buses, and trucks may reach up to P5,000 or more annually. This is exorbitant and unfair.

The negative side also argues that using Euro 4 as a standard for passing the MVIS is not feasible. They said 95 percent of vehicles in the Philippines are Euro 3-compliant or below.

Most, if not all, common carrier vehicles will not pass the MVIS by June 2020, they added.

Bolstering the argument that imposing Euro 4 standards was not feasible, they said that the Philippines does not even have the capacity to produce Euro 4 motor vehicles.

The negative side also questioned government’s motivation for using Euro 4 standards. This is tantamount to implementation of a year-model phase-out.

It posited that in essence the MVIS is a means to promote efficient and safe operation of all motor vehicles. Roadworthiness should be the criteria and not Euro 4 standards.

In conclusion, the negative side called for the removal of Euro 4 standards as basis for the MVIS, the use of roadworthiness as the main criterion, and the inclusion of the NPTC in policy-making and in the technical working group for the PUV modernization program.

In presenting the affirmative side of the debate, the DOTr emphasized that “the primordial objective of the MVIS is to assure that only roadworthy vehicles will be allowed on the streets.” 

It said that only a technology-driven MVIS could ensure  that “road safety will be upheld, and accidents caused by mechanical malfunctions, especially from old and dilapidated trucks, buses and public utility jeepneys will be reduced, if not totally eliminated.”

On the fairness of proposed MVIS fees, the affirmative side said that “NPTC’s claim that operators of common carriers or public utility vehicles will be charged a P5,000 fee for MVIS once it becomes privatized is grossly inaccurate. The proposed fee is only P1,800, based on a study done by the Public-Private Partnership Center, as premised on the average cost of a full tank of fuel in a vehicle.”

The affirmative side added that the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is proposing lower rates (than P1,800) for private motorcycles and motor vehicles, and special rates for public utility vehicles. Public consultations on this will be conducted later this month.

On the use of Euro 4 for the MVIS, the affirmative side said “the Euro 4 engine emission standard was not made mandatory because of the MVIS, but because it is required under the Clean Air Act of 1999 or RA 8749, which enjoins compliance to emission standards set forth by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.”

Under RA 8749, “all vehicles, whether private or common carrier, should comply with Euro 4 emission standards starting January 2018,” it said.

In conclusion, the DOTr said,  “We reiterate that we remain most open to consider inputs of the NPTC on the policy development and implementation of the MVIS, provided that these be based on reasonable, logical and actuarial modern transport framework.”

It appears that this debate is just beginning. But it is good that in this first verbal skirmish, both affirmative and negative sides expressed openness to further continue talking and debating.

But many are hoping that both sides are also open to listening and, more importantly, to seeking compromise. On many issues such as this, a debate is useless is if it is more about winning arguments than working out solutions.

What is a carpool?

Every once in while, transport authorities urge the public to carpool as a means to help decongest traffic. People are urged to share cars in going to and from work. 

The reasoning behind this is pretty straightforward. There should be fewer cars with just the driver on congested thoroughfares like we see on EDSA daily if people carpool.

But then we read reports of the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (I-ACT) intensifying operations against so-called colorum vehicles and apprehending carpoolers as a result.

A group calling itself “The Passenger Forum,” or TPF, which advocates, among other causes, carpooling, is asking the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to “clarify the rules governing carpooling.”

Apparently the TPF is seeking a clear LTFRB definition of carpool and carpooling, and perhaps more importantly to distinguish this from colorum vehicles ferrying passengers for a fee.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines carpool as “an arrangement in which a group of people commute together by car: [also] the group entering into such an arrangement.”

Colorum virus

It was bound to happen. Every medium of legal land transportation in the country gets infected by the colorum virus.

Somehow, some way, there will be operators and drivers offering the same transport services as those who sought franchises or permits to operate.

So when motorcycle taxis were allowed to operate as part of a study for their eventual legalization, copycats, legal and not, surfaced.

First there was Angkas, then came Move It and Joyride. The three are now part of the so-called Motorcycle Taxi Pilot Implementation Study.

Now comes motorcycle taxis operating under the trade name Sampa and I-Sabay.

This is aside from outright colorum riders and those which identify themselves as Angkas riders but are not in the masterlist submitted by Angkas to the LTFRB.

In a press statement, the DOTr said: “For the Pilot Study, which will run until March 2020, only three motorcycle transport network companies (TNCs) are permitted to operate: Angkas, Move It, and JoyRide.”

In the same press release, Technical Working Group chairman Antonio Gardiola Jr. said: “Those who will insist to operate in the guise of a participant of the study and is not registered in the master list will be apprehended as colorum. We will not have second thoughts to penalize those who defy the authority. I also appeal to our participating players to please register your participants with the TWG and submit a daily ridership report.”

Commuters should pray the colorum virus infecting the motorcycle taxi operations won’t further delay or put a stop to its eventual but long-delayed legalization.

Happy Motoring!!!

For comments and inquiries email [email protected] or visit www.motoringtoday.ph.

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