Transport groups on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against higher traffic violation fines to be implemented by state transport regulators this month.
As this developed, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday started distributing copies of the approved fare matrix to leaders of various public utility jeepney (PUJ) groups in line with the forthcoming implementation of the P0.50 minimum fare increase on June 14.
In a 15-page petition, transport groups led by Angat Tsuper/STOP GO and its affiliates and represented by its president Pascual Magno Jr. said the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the LTFRB have violated the rights of the drivers and operators “to make a living,” saying that their job is a property right covered by Section 1 Article 3 of the Constitution.
Named as respondents are Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, LTO Assistant Secretary Alfonso Tan Jr., and LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez.
The transport groups said the respondents exercised grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in enacting and issuing Joint Administrative Order 2014-01 or the Revised Schedule of Fines and Penalties for Violations of Laws, Rules and Regulations Governing Land Transportation that will take effect on June 19, 2014.
Motorists caught violating most of these violations were formerly fined P200, but the new schedule significantly raises the amount.
These violations include parking in front of a private driveway, allowing passengers on top of a motor vehicle, failing to dim headlights when approaching another motor vehicle, and
carrying two or more passengers in a motorcycle, among others.
Drivers caught under the influence of alcohol, aside from being fined, will also have his or her license confiscated and suspended for a year.
Reckless drivers will be fined P2,000. Succeeding offenses will be meted a fine of P10,000. In addition, the license of a reckless driver may be suspended for three to six months.
Failure of a motorcycle rider and passenger to wear helmet merits a P1,500 fine for the first offense and P5,000 for succeeding offenses.
Drivers of vehicles found to have defective accessories, devices, equipment and parts such as horns, blinkers, brakes, early warning devices, mirrors, lights, speedometer, wipers and license plates will be fined P5,000.
Public utility driver drivers, including taxi drivers, who will refuse to render service to a passenger or to give due discounts and/or overcharge may be fined P1,000. Their operators will also be fined P5,000.
The LTFRB said it will not hesitate to cancel an operator’s certificate of public convenience if a violation is committed for the third time.
After apprehension, a temporary operator’s permit will be given for a public utility vehicle to operate for 72 hours. Failure to settle the penalty within 15 days from the date of the apprehension shall result in the automatic suspension of the driver’s license for 30 days.
On Monday, LTFRB employees gave out free copies of the fare matrix at the Amoranto Sports Complex in Quezon City.
“No driver can charge the increased fare without displaying the matrix that will inform the public of the right fares,” Lawyer Winston Ginez, LTFRB chairman, said in a statement.
The fare for the first four kilometers will increase by P0.50 to P8.50; and that for every succeeding kilometer will increase by P0.10 to P1.50, subject to certain conditions.
The regulatory board said that under the new fare matrix, children less than a meter in height can ride for free and those from one to 1.30 meters in height shall pay half fare.
PUJ operators shall provide an adequate place in their units the necessary markings for verifying the heights of children entitled to free or half fare.
Qualified senior citizens, students and persons with disabilities (PWD) are still entitled to a 20-percent fare discount.
The LTFRB is strictly ordering all PUJ operators and drivers in the National Capital Region, Region 3 and Region 4 to conspicuously display the fare matrix in the interior their PUJ units.
“We strongly urge the commuting public to report drivers who fail to conspicuously display the new are matrix, or who overcharge their passengers,” Ginez said.
The distribution of the new fare matrix will continue today, on Wednesday and on Friday.
The board encouraged PUJ group leaders to send only one representative to collect the copies of the fare matrix for their members and distribute them to the drivers.
Drivers who fail to follow the conditions stipulated in the new fare matrix will be apprehended and penalized by the Board and other road traffic enforcers.