SC: Metro Mania local gov’ts can’t confiscate drivers’ licenses

SC: Metro Manila local governments can’t confiscate drivers’ licenses

/ 05:40 AM March 06, 2024

PHOTO: Closeup of hands. One man handing over license to a cop. STORY: SC: Metro Manila local governments can’t confiscate drivers’ licenses stock images

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has ordered local governments in Metro Manila to stop their traffic enforcers from confiscating drivers’ licenses and issuing traffic violation tickets to erring motorists unless they are deputized by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

The local governments were instead instructed to comply with the MMDA’s single-ticketing system, which was set in place last year to harmonize traffic enforcement and penalties in the capital region.


In a decision dated July 11, 2023, but posted on the Supreme Court website only on Monday, the court en banc granted a petition for review filed by 11 transport groups against the MMDA, Land Transportation Office, 15 Metro Manila local governments and what was then the Department of Transportation and Communications.


READ: SC voids Metro Manila LGUs’ issuance of traffic violation tickets

Among the respondents were the municipality of Pateros and the cities of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig and Valenzuela.

The high court declared null and void the common provision in the traffic ordinances of these local governments that give them the power to issue ordinance violation receipts (OVRs) —their local traffic violation tickets—to erring motorists.

Petition to CA

The case dates back to 2006, when Fejodap, Pasang Masda, Piston, Altodap, and seven other transport groups filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) a petition for injunction and mandamus seeking to nullify the OVR provision in the local ordinances.

While the case was ongoing, the MMDA in January 2012 issued Resolution No. 12-02, adopting a uniform ticketing system.

In December 2012, the CA denied the transport groups’ petition for lack of merit. According to the appellate court, the local ordinances being challenged were legal and constitutional.


It said there was no conflict between Republic Act No. 7924, or the 1995 law that established the MMDA, and the Local Government Code of 1991.

Each of these laws, the CA then ruled, had its specific boundaries: the first governs the delivery of metro-wide services, while the second empowers local governments to enact ordinances.

The Local Government Code, however, only authorizes towns and cities to “regulate traffic on all streets and bridges; prohibit encroachments or obstacles thereon and, when necessary in the interest of public welfare, authorize the removal of encroachments and illegal constructions in public places.”

MMDA is ‘principal’

The Supreme Court, in its decision, said the provisions in the Metro Manila Traffic Code implied that the local ordinances remained superior regarding traffic-related matters.

This was “not the intention” of the MMDA law, the high court said.

Based on Section 5(f) of RA 7924, the agency has the authority to administer a uniform ticketing system and “fix, impose and collect fines and penalties for all kinds of violations of traffic rules and regulations,” including the confiscation, suspension or revocation of driver’s licenses.

“While the Court recognizes that [local governments] possess delegated legislative powers, and thus may enact regulations to promote the general welfare of the people, the fact remains that as agents of the State, it is incumbent upon them to act in conformity to the will of their principal,” the Supreme Court said, noting that the MMDA law supersedes the local traffic ordinances.

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In her dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier said: “It is my humble view that the MMDA is, and has always been, a mere administrative coordinating body sans any ordinance-making power. Notably, this view is strongly supported, reiterated, and espoused by a handful of landmark jurisprudence on the matter.”

TAGS: driver's license, Metro Manila traffic enforcer, Supreme Court, traffic violations

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