Comply with court order on fines, transport group tells DOTCBy Kristine Felisse Mangunay
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Members of a militant transport organization trooped to the head office of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in Mandaluyong City on Tuesday to protest what they said was the agency’s failure to comply with a court order prohibiting them from imposing fines on erring jeepney drivers.
Around 80 members of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) stormed the DOTC office on Ortigas Avenue around 11:15 a.m. demanding that the agency abide by a May 2 decision issued by Judge Antonio M. Estevez of Branch 5 of the Baguio Regional Trial Court.
The decision, which Piston head George San Mateo said prohibited the DOTC from implementing Order 2008-39 that imposes a “400 to 4,000 percent” increase in monetary sanctions on jeepney drivers with traffic violations, was issued in response to a permanent injunction and temporary restraining order filed by the group’s Baguio chapter in April 2009.
The protest followed the local court’s denial of the DOTC’s motion for reconsideration of the May 2 decision on September 10.
“Many of our jeepney drivers are losing their means of livelihood because they have no money to (pay the fines). The court has junked their petition but they (DOTC) refuse to comply,” San Mateo said.
He added that the court did not give credence to the DOTC’s argument that it was just exercising its police and regulatory functions.
According to San Mateo, instead, the court concluded that the agency was encroaching on Congress’ function of revenue generation.
The department order specifically mentioned that it used as bases Executive Order 218 and a joint memorandum circular of the Department of Finance issued during then President Joseph Estrada’s administration precisely for that purpose, the Piston head said.
He claimed the excess money only went to the pockets of certain government officials.
Around 1 p.m., the group trooped to a Petron station in Ortigas Center to denounce the prices of diesel that allegedly did not reflect prices in the world market.
Senior Superintendent Armando Bolalin, Mandaluyong chief of police, told the Inquirer that he deployed around 30 policemen to ensure the security and safety of passersby and motorists.