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Impounded colorum vehicles need court order before release — LTO

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) on Tuesday said impounded colorum vehicles may only be released through a court order, despite the payment of fines by the registered owner.

This move adds "more teeth," the LTO said, to the nationwide anti-colorum campaign.

The development comes amid an ongoing three-day protest by unconsolidated jeepney drivers and operators decrying the government's alleged clampdown against their ranks amid the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

Unconsolidated jeepney drivers found still plying routes face fines, while their units would be impounded for 30 days. They have bemoaned that this would effectively take away their livelihood.

"Kailangan na nating magpatupad ng mas mabigat na kaparusahan tungkol dito upang maipakita sa mga taong patuloy na nilalabag ang batas na seryoso ang ating pamahalaan upang tapusin ang modus nila," said LTO chief Assistant Secretary Vigor Mendoza.

(We need to impose heavier sanctions to show repeat violators of the law that our administration is serious about ending their modus.)

In a statement on Tuesday, the LTO said all its regional directors, and heads of district offices and LTO units must file a criminal case for every successful anti-colorum operation.

"This is the responsibility of the apprehending officers, heads of LES/RLES (Law Enforcement Service/Regional Law Enforcement Service), and heads of office. Failure to do so shall be subject to administrative liability," said Mendoza.

"Pending the criminal case, the unit should not be released without a court order as the vehicle is part of the evidence of the crime. Releasing the vehicle is tantamount to Infidelity in the Custody of Evidence," he added.  

The LTO noted that private vehicles acting like PUVs without complying with legal requirements is considered colorum. The LTFRB, the LTO said, is in charge of permits for motor vehicles that would be used as PUVs.

"Simple lang po ito: May mga regulasyon patungkol sa operation ng public utility vehicles. Kung hindi po ito sinunod, maliwanag na iligal po ang operasyon nito and this is equivalent to committing a crime. Kaya may karampatang parusa at multa dito," said Mendoza.

(It's simple: There are regulations on the operation of public utility vehicles. If these are not followed, the PUV operations are clearly violated and this is equivalent to committing a crime. That's why there is a corresponding punishment and fine for this.)

"At kasama sa parusa dito ay ang pagpapatupad natin ng no release policy for all vehicles that would be impounded in anti-colorum operations," he added.

(Along with this fine is our enforcement of the no release policy for all vehicles that would be impounded in anti-colorum operations.)

On May 16, the LTFRB started flagging down jeepney drivers who failed to join cooperatives in compliance with the PUV Modernization Program.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said unconsolidated jeepneys that ply routes are considered colorum and apprehended jeepney drivers would pay a fine of P10,000, while their units would get a P50,000 penalty and be impounded for 30 days.

Transport group MANIBELA is on the second day of its three-day protest to call on the government to give unconsolidated jeepney drivers and operators one more year of provisional authority. — VDV, GMA Integrated News