Transpo groups seeks SC help in declaring NCAP invalid

Published August 15, 2022, 10:16 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Four transport groups are seeking the intervention of the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the controversial no-contact apprehension policy (NCAP) which is currently in effect in at least five cities in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Lawyer Vigor Mendoza II, lead counsel and head of one of the petitioners, Kilusan sa Pagbabago ng Industriya ng Transportasyon Inc. (KAPIT), said the purpose of the Petition for Certiorari they filed is to have the NCAP declared as unconstitutional and therefore, invalid.

But in the meantime while the Supreme Court would be discussing the legal issue, Mendoza said they are also seeking for an issuance of a temporary restraining order or cease and desist order.

Aside from KAPIT, the petitioners are the Pangkalahatang Saggunian Manila and Suburbs Drivers Association Nationwide (Pasang-Masda), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO).

The NCAP implementation has been the subject of numerous complaints of motorists and vehicle owners who have been questioning the wisdom and propriety of some of its provisions, as well as the so-called “traps” in road signs and other factors that force motorists to commit violations.

The NCAP is currently being implemented in Manila, Quezon City, Valenzuela City, Muntinlupa City, and Parañaque City through ordinances anchored on the February 2016 resolution of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for the re-implementation of the NCAP.

In the petition, Mendoza argued that NCAP has no legal grounds since it is not explicitly defined either in the Republic Act 7924 that serves as the enabling charter of the MMDA, and the RA 4136 which created the LTO.

“At the time when the MMDA resolution was passed, there was no statute nor ordinance, allowing the MMDA to augment traffic rules and regulations, to add or to expand the coverage of persons, other than the offending driver, who are liable for committing traffic violations,” the petition read.

The petition apparently supports the position of LTO chief Teofilo Guadiz called on some local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila to suspend the NCAP implementation until such time that some issues are resolved, particularly in the aspect that the registered owners of both the private and public utility vehicles are the ones being asked to pay for the penalties.

The LTO is also a respondent in the petition filed by the transport groups.

And when the 17 Metro Manila mayors signed the February 2016 MMDA Resolution, Mendoza explained that it was an exercise in futility that renders the resolution invalid since the power to enact laws that should be implemented in their areas rests on the local councils, and not on the mayors.

While the LGUs enacted their respective ordinances in support of the resolution, Mendoza argued that it is still invalid since there are no existing laws passed by the Congress that allows the implementation of no-contact apprehension.

What is stipulated in the RA 4136, according to Mendoza, is that only face-to-face apprehension is mandated and that traffic violations are liability of the erring drivers and not the registered owners.

The implementation of the NCAP which passes the liability to registered owners under the presumption that they are the ones driving their vehicles clearly contravenes what the RA 4136 stipulates, Mendoza stressed.

Grounds for petition

The four transport groups emphasized the following in filing the petition:

1. That the ordinances of the LGUs are violation of the existing statutes, which do not establish, authorize and even mention any no-contact apprehension;

2. That since the wordings of the RA 4136 is clear, any inclusion that include NCAP, is void;

3. That the NCAP implementation violates due process;

4. That the NCAP provisions imposes unreasonable conditions that include non-renewal of the vehicle registration until such time that the fines are settled;

5. And that the NCAP implementation makes innocent third persons liable for traffic violations.

Why the Supreme Court?

Mendoza said that while they recognize the hierarchy of the court which states that petitions should be filed first in the lower courts, there is a need for Supreme Court intervention on the matter since NCAP is purely legal issues that will eventually be resolved by the High Court.

He added that the petition will also result in the uniformity of decision involving the same questions of law and to avoid multiplicity of suits.

The petition added that since the ordinance in question involves public interest, “there is no other plain, speedy, adequate, and complete remedy” other than the decision of the Supreme Court.