By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The local court here declared Department order 2008-39 of the Land Transportation Office-Department of Transportation and Communications (LTO-DOTC) unconstitutional and therefore null and void.
Branch 5 of the Regional Trial Court, First Judicial Region under Judge Antonio M. Esteves on May 3, decided in favor of the Maria Basa Express Jeepney Operators and Drivers’ Association (MBEJODA) and its president then, Manuel S. Kitan who filed a petition for a Permanent Writ of preliminary injunction against the said LTO directive in August three years ago.
Judge Esteves also ordered the LTO, DOTC and all persons and offices acting on their behalf to cease and desist from implementing the said LTO directive.
MBEJODA, a member organization of the Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide-Metro Baguio (Piston-MM) found the LTO Department Order numbered 2008-39 titled: “Revised Schedule of LTO Fines and Penalties for Traffic and Administrative Violations” irregular when three of its member-drivers were apprehended by the “flying Squad” of the LTO for alleged “out of line” or “deviation” of route.
The three were told that they will have to pay the fine of P6,000.00 and if they failed to pay within the 72-hour period, they are going to pay the surcharge of P1,500 a day.
According to the transport group, the fines was for traffic violations that were basically increased from three hundred pesos to one thousand pesos.
MBEJODA saw that the fines were exorbitant and unjust for ordinary jeepney drivers. They had tried to question the order with the local LTO but it was a department directive and therefore they sought the court.
MBEJODA in their petition claimed that the department order suffers from fatal and congenital defects and is hence, null and void.
The court decision then pointed out too that the said LTO directive was neither promulgated to be a disciplinary, nor punitive or a preventive measure in the exercise of police powers of the LTO, but rather aimed to generate funds for government coffers.
In its petition, MBEJODA also assailed the constitutionality of the said department order on the basis that it is an exercise of the Power of Taxation, a power that is essentially legislative in nature.
Quoted from the copy of the court ruling, “a law, ordinance or order to be valid must not contravene the constitution or its statutes; (it) must not be oppressive; must not be impartial, but fair and general; must not prohibit but may regulate trade; must not contravene common right; must be consistent with public policy and must not be unreasonable.”
Also according to the ruling, the resolution of the case is anchored on two basic issues. Whether or not the department order is a revenue measure and whether or not the department order is void and unconstitutional.
According to Piston-MB president Carlito Wayas, they triumphantly welcome the said court ruling as favoring the small jeepney drivers and operators and all affected motorists.
He said they are not condemning the apprehensions of traffic violators as it is according to the law but they question the fairness of high penalties and fines that the concerned agencies impose, and making it economically uncalled for and more difficult for the drivers and operators to cope.
Wayas said that they gave a special attention to the said case. He also said that Piston and other transport groups and organizations in the national region waited for the result of this case. He said that the court ruling applies nationwide. # nordis.net