Without any exhaustive public consultation or a public information campaign, the Department of Transportation DOTr and the Land Transportation Office formulated a policy that authorizes private inspection centers to collect an inspection fee of ₱1,800 from motor vehicles weighing 4,500 kilograms or less. If the vehicle fails the test, it will be required to undergo necessary repairs and taken back to the private inspection centers, where the motorist is charged an additional P900 reinspection fee to obtain clearance.
Motorcycles and tricycles are charged ₱600 for the inspection fee and ₱300 for the reinspection fee.
The agencies then issued Memorandum Circular 2020- 17 2240 dated 29 December 2020 that directs the immediate implementation of said policy. But the Senate caught them on their tracks.
Senator Ralph Recto filed a resolution to defer the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) planned roll-out of 138 private motor vehicle inspection centers nationwide. The additional expenses they would have on motorists and the lack of transparency in program implementation were two of more reasons Rector cited.
Recto’s Senate Bill No. 638 cites:
- Unfair treatment to vehicle owners. Subjecting private vehicles to annual roadworthiness tests and franchised vehicles to semi-annual checks after five years is seen as unfair by the motoring public.
- Lack of public consultation.
- The testing fees are exorbitant. Recto questions the basis of the testing fees amounting to ₱1,800 for light vehicles, ₱600 for motorcycles, and ₱300 for public utility vehicles.
- Is the policy illegal? While expressing fears that the roadworthiness testing procedure is prone to corruption, some sectors have raised doubts on the legality of Memorandum Circular 2020-2240.
- LGUs don’t agree with the policy. The LGUs have cited mounting complaints regarding erroneous readings of testing results, alleged instances of mechanical damage to vehicles, improper handling by technicians, faulty equipment, and poor Internet connections at local LTO offices.
A few days earlier Senator Grace Poe also sought the deferment of the same policy for the same reasons.
“This has triggered widespread protests from motorists and civic organizations who questioned the integrity of the process and described the 72-point series of roadworthiness automated tests as more demanding than those required for car dealerships,” Recto said.
During a pandemic and an economic downturn that are causing suffering, fear and anxiety, Recto argued, the public should not be further burdened by regulatory measures with questionable procedures, imposing exorbitant fees with doubtful effectiveness, and implemented without proper public consultation.
“Resolved by the Senate, as it is hereby resolved, to urge the DOTr and LTO to suspend the operation of the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers until a comprehensive public consultation is conducted, with the end in view of promoting transparency to stakeholders and the public, forging programs with social acceptability and ensuring public safety,” Recto said.
Before the Motor Vehicle Inspection System program was put in place, Poe said, motorists only had to pay an average of P500 for the emission testing fee. The new inspection procedure is supposedly more thorough as it uses advanced technology to check the car from inside out.