Solon wants no-contact apprehension policy probed, stopped immediately
MANILA, Philippines — No-contact apprehension policy (NCAP), which monitors traffic violations with cameras, must be investigated and stopped, a lawmaker said, calling the penalties unconstitutional.
In a privilege speech, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers asked if penalties from the NCAP, implemented by local government units (LGUs) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), violate section 19 of the 1987 Constitution by being excessive.
Barbers explored the possibility of twice reprimanding traffic violators, as some Local Government Units use different NCAPs than the MMDA.
“Next question, why is it that some notices or citations are mailed to the registered owners by the MMDA, on its letterhead with logo, and citing MMDA Resolution No. 16-01 series of 2016? […] Is it, therefore, possible that one vehicle owner will be cited for one violation by two entities — the MMDA or the LGU?” he asked on Tuesday.
“Is the NCAP constitutional considering the following concerns? Amount of fines and penalties vis-a-vis the infraction? Section 19 Article 3 of the Constitution states that excessive fines or penalties should not be imposed nor cruel, degrading, and inhuman punishment is inflicted,” he added.
A law preventing those with unpaid traffic fines from registering their vehicles has not yet been passed, according to Barbers, chair of the House committee on dangerous drugs.
On the other hand, according to the legislator, the seven-day response or contest period on NCAP tickets violates due process rights.
“To date, there is no law, ordinance, or regulation prohibiting vehicle registration due to non-payment of fines for traffic violators. Again, if this is followed or is implemented, it’s clearly a violation of Section 1 and Section 19 of our Constitution,” he explained.
“The absence of due process, Madam Speaker, before collection of fine and penalty is clearly stated as well: additional penalty upon failure to settle within seven days, or failure to contest within seven days the amounts to a waiver — meaning, pagbabayarin ka pa rin (you will still be asked to pay) within seven days if you did not contest, you will have to go to the ‘bayad center’ and pay the fines imposed,” he added.
(Barbers addressed Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur 2nd District Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan.)
He said such serious constitutional concerns should trigger an investigation by the House leadership and a temporary suspension of the NCAP program.
“So again, Madam Speaker, these are questions that were raised — in fact, this has become a hot issue today because I’m sure one or maybe a couple of the members have become a victim of this NCAP trap, so to speak,” Barbers said.
“So with these questions, Madam Speaker, I ask that the leadership initiate actions to immediately effect the suspension of this NCAP until we have answered the questions, to the satisfaction of the public,” he added.
NCAP is all the rage on social media among motorists who receive letters even when they don’t own the vehicle or haven’t even set foot in the city during the violation.
People were also cited for traffic violations that were dubious, such as a motorist who was caught using the bike lane. In several Facebook posts, it was claimed that the motorist was only making a right turn and therefore needed to use the bike lane.
In addition, traffic lights are changing faster or without warning, trapping motorists into violations.
The issues have led the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to seek the suspension of NCAP until a thorough study is conducted.
READ: MMDA respects LGU autonomy on ‘no contact apprehension policy’
According to Barbers, tracking traffic violators is a laudable action for reducing traffic build-up and making streets safer. To avoid inconveniences to the public, he said the problems must be addressed first.
“While the objective is laudable, Madam Speaker, the NCAP implementation gave rise to more questions than answers. It took a life of its own and became a problem by itself, an additional burden and a source of corruption institutionalized by the State,” he added.
Editor: JE | Post edited: abc (5:09 p.m.)
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