Senators on Monday, August 23, assailed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for again making the motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) mandatory despite complaints from stakeholders and even President Duterte’s order to suspend it.
The matter was raised when Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, delivered a privilege speech on the revival of the MVIS in private inspection centers.
“Sa panahon ng pandemya kung kailan bawat piso ay mahalaga, isang krimen ang pamemera gamit ang polisiya na hitik sa problema (At a time of pandemic when every peso is important, it is a crime to take advantage of people using a problematic policy),” Poe said in her speech during the resumption of
She described the resumption of the operations of private motor vehicle inspection centers (PMVICs) as “unjust enrichment” as she negated the DOTr’s claim that fees being imposed were lowered.
The senator cited a letter sent by Camarines Sur Governor Migz Villafuerte to the DOTr saying that emission tests are still cheaper than the PMVIC test.
There were also reports that motorists were being forced to buy insurance policies from PMVIC operators to get a passing mark on their vehicle examination, Poe disclosed.
Based on the DOTr’s new memo, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will only accept motor vehicle registrations from authorized PMVICs within their so-called “geographical area of responsibility” or GAOR.
The resumption was also “ill-timed” at the height of the more transmissible COVID-19 variants, with motorists being forced to line up outside designated PMVICs in their areas without physical distancing.
She also showed video clips showing long lines and disorderly operations of PMVICs in Pangasinan, where there are only four inspections centers.
“Pinaikot lang tayo pero sa huli ay PMVIC owners pa rin ang panalo at ang mga motorista ang talo (We were taken as fools because in the end, PMVIC owners were still the winners while motorists were the losers)” Poe lamented.
Other Senate leaders also noted that the revival of the MVIS was against the orders of President Duterte, who, last February, told the DOTr to suspend the policy.
“We want to find out if this is the new norm. Remember, the President told us to remove the face shields, the following day the DOH [Department of Health] said ‘ibalik (retain it)’. Ganon din ‘yan eh (It’s the same as this),” Sotto related.
“Sinabi ni Presidente itigil eh, sabi ng DOTr, ‘Hindi, ibalik (The President wanted iits stopped, but the DOTr insisted, ‘No, we must revive it)’,” he added.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, for his part, asked if the DOTr had informed Duterte about resuming PMVIC operations. He earlier called on the agency to explain its move.
“Kung pinahinto ng Pangulo ‘yan (If the President halted that), isn’t it prudent for…DOTr ay magpaliwanag muna sa Palasyo at humingii muna ng basbas bago ipagpatuly ulit ang programang ito (to explain first to the Palace and ask for permission before continuing this program)?” Recto said in the plenary session.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said senators should condemn “in the strongest terms” the DOTr and LTO’s disregard of the Senate’s recommendations and Duterte’s order.
He moved for the adoption of an unnumbered resolution calling out the continued implementation of MVIS, which he said was “uncalled for”.
“This is heartless. Wala na ngang trabaho ‘yong ating mga tricycle drivers, ‘yong mga driver natin, papahirapan pa natin (Our drivers already lost their jobs, and yet we will make them suffer) on an issue which can easily be deferred,” Drilon pointed out.
Poe agreed with Drilon: “It’s really an insensitive policy of the DOTr at this point.”
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who was Duterte’s former special assistant, assured his colleagues that the President “always listens especially on matters of public interest”.
He also urged DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to explain on the revival of the MVIS despite the pandemic.
Senators, among other issues, had questioned the legality of the operations of PMVICs as they noted that existing do not provide for the delegation of MVIS to the private sector.
Last March 1, the Senate unanimously adopted the report of the Committee on Public Services which recommends the halt of PMVIC operations.