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Poe to DOTr: Answer Senate panel report on private testing centers controversy

Senator Grace Poe said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) should not just shrug off questions raised in the Senate panel report on alleged controversies in the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs).

Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services that issued the report, said they expect a “complete and satisfactory explanation” from the agency on how it came about with such program that initially mandates an additional layer of testing and extra expenses as a requirement for registration.

“The Committee still hopes that the DoTr could fully and honestly answer the issues raised in the Committee Report despite its seeming aversion to do so,” she said in a statement.

Malacanang has since ruled that such test was no longer mandatory as it adds burden to the people.  Similarly, the panel report recommended that the DOTr and the Land Transportation Office issue a formal order lowering the test fees and making it optional.

The DOTr said that it was only asked to comment on the specific assertion by the senator.

“[A]nd our prompt response was to provide the media and the public with a copy of an official LTO Memorandum dated 11 February 2021, which specifically directs LTO regional directors and personnel concerned to ensure the strict implementation of the President’s order to make vehicle inspection from PMVICs non-mandatory, as well as the directive of the DOTr on lowered PMVIC inspection fees,” the agency had said.

Poe retorted, saying “Press conferences and statements are not policy. Only executive issuances like Department Orders and Memorandum Circulars can repeal the policies laid down by the very same agencies."

"It saddens the Committee that the DoTr seems to take the results of its balanced and comprehensive investigation as a slight. Public service is a public trust. A public official should be open to legitimate and constructive criticisms especially if the costs of the program will be shouldered by the people," she added.

As to the DoTr's claim that no bidding was necessary in the selection of private testing centers because no public funds were used, Poe stressed that the government still conducts competitive bidding "even for projects that do not require public funds."

"This is exactly the beauty of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT)  projects," she added.

Poe said the agency should instead offer an explanation to the public on these questions:

  • Why did it change its policy and suddenly implicitly allowed DoTr and LTO employees to own a PMVIC unless they are part of the accreditation committees?
  • Why did it approve the testing fees to increase by 300% - a rate which has not undergone stakeholder consultations?
  • Why did it not utilize the Motor Vehicle User's Fund to finance the construction of inspection centers that can offer its services for free to Filipino motorists?
  • Why did it allow the PMVIC rollout with only 24 centers operating all over the country when such number will never suffice to accommodate all vehicles that are required to undergo testing? Not to mention that some of these inspection centers have no capability yet to interface with the LTO’s computer database.
  • Why did it allow a licensing fee of only P 50,000 for each center when the annual income that is projected to be generated by an inspection center can very well reach P 40 Million based on DoTr's own data?
  • Why did it begin testing private automobiles when public vehicles, especially trucks and buses, transport more passengers and are usually more prone to fatal accidents?

"The Committee would like to reiterate that it supports any effort from the government to ensure that vehicles in the Philippines are roadworthy. It is public knowledge that the Committee Chairperson has authored and pushed for the passage of measures which prioritize safety in our roads," Poe said.

"However, these perceived problems will not be solved through the establishment of a system that adds the burden solely on the public under suspicious circumstances," she added. —LDF, GMA News