SC affirms LTO, LTFRB power over public utility vehicles
The Supreme Court has declared constitutional the orders issued by the then Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), now the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), imposing stiffer penalties on operators and drivers of “colorum,” or unregistered, public utility vehicles (PUVs) plying the routes without a franchise from the government.
In a 69-page decision penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, the high tribunal, in full court session, declared constitutional LTO Department Order (DO) No. 2008-39 and its amended version, Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2014-01.
The joint administrative order, which introduced a revised schedule of fines and penalties for drivers or operators cited for traffic violations, was issued by the DOTC in an effort to curb vehicular accidents involving PUVs.
Under the order, colorum PUVs face the following fines: P1 million for bus operators; P200,000 for van and truck operators; P120,000 for sedan operators; P50,000 for jeepney operators and P6,000 for motorcycle operators.
Apart from these fines, colorum vehicles will also be impounded for a minimum period of three months. The entire certificate of public convenience to which the colorum vehicle belongs would be revoked, as well as their vehicle registrations.
They will also be blacklisted from being used as PUVs in the future.
“To aggravate the already pernicious nature of the roads is the proliferation of colorum vehicles. As their continued conduct absent requisite authority would immeasurably endanger the lives of the riding public, it is necessary for the State, pursuant to its police power devolving unto the DOTC and its agencies, to place reasonable restrictions in the form of higher fees and stricter penalties upon the operation of motor vehicles,” the tribunal said in its ruling.
‘Vague’ rules and regulations
“In fine, this Court fails to see how the issuance of DO No. 2008-39 and its amended version, JAO No. 2014-01 is an outright affront to the Constitution and an intrusion to private rights. If at all, the assailed orders only serve to further the initiatives of the State concerning anything that proves to be a menace to public safety and welfare,” it added.
READ: The LTFRB faces a population of runaway ‘colorum’ vehicles
Named respondents in the petition were the DOTC (now DOTr), LTO and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The petitioners include Angat Tsuper Samahan ng Mga Tsuper At Operator ng Pilipinas and its affiliate groups; Maria Basa Express Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association Inc.; Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide; Ximex Delivery Express Inc.; National Confederation of Transport Workers Inc. and its affiliate groups.
READ: LTFRB pressed anew on stiff ‘colorum’ fines
The petitioners argued that the LTO and LTFRB, being attached agencies, had no power to establish and prescribe “vague” rules and regulations relating to the enforcement of laws governing transportation and the Baguio City Regional Trial Court in May 2012 and the Court of Appeals in November the same year already declared the penalties unconstitutional.
But the high court, in its decision, said that “the rules regulating land transportation designed for the safety and convenience of the riding public must be strictly complied with.”
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