Let PUV drivers be: Let them wear ‘tsinelas’

Published by rudy Date posted on March 26, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—Whether they’re using Havaianas or Havanas, please don’t punish drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) for wearing tsinelas (slippers), transport group leaders urged government Wednesday.

The transport leaders called on the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) to defer the implementation of certain provisions of an order increasing the fines and penalties for erring motorists while the affected parties contest these.

One of the provisions they complained about penalizes the wearing of slippers by drivers, which was listed among the reckless driving violations.

Excessive

Drivers and PUV operators said some of the fines under DoTC Order No. 2008-39, which was issued last year, were excessive.

The drivers and transport operators also claimed that there was no consultation done before the order was approved.

DoTC officials disputed the drivers and operators, saying numerous public hearings were conducted on the imposition of fines in the previous years.

Informal hearing

At an “informal hearing” Wednesday called by Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, chair of the House transportation committee, the transport group leaders also complained about the imposition of penalties on PUV drivers caught wearing slippers while on the road.

Zenaida Maranan, president of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations of the Philippines, said drivers should not get punished for using slippers.

“Drivers cannot afford to buy shoes. Besides, they would only get blisters if they use shoes while driving jeepneys,” Maranan said Wednesday.

Under the DoTC order, public utility drivers would be fined P1,000 for the first offense. For the second offense, they would be fined P1,500 and their license suspended for two months; for the third offense, there is a P2,000 fine and a six-month suspension of license.

The fourth offense would get them slapped with a P5,000 fine and their license revoked.

Puentevella said the concern of Maranan over the use of slippers was not unreasonable. “Maybe it’s not reckless to use slippers,” he said.

Increase in fees

The transport group leaders also protested the increase in the fees.

Efren de Luna of the Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators said that if there was any increase in the fines, it should only be around 25 percent, not 200 percent.

But Daisy Jacobo, Traffic Safety Division chief of the Land Transportation Office, defended the DoTC order, saying that the fines were not excessive.

She said the monetary penalties for reckless driving were small compared with the loss of lives and damage to property.

No violation, no fine

She said the fines were meant to regulate motorists. “If drivers don’t violate, they don’t pay the fine,” Jacobo said.

She also pointed out that six public hearings were held from 2002 to 2005. The hearings were recorded, with corresponding minutes and attendance sheets.

Puentevella said he would consult Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza about the transport groups’ plea to defer the order’s implementation.

He also asked the transport groups to submit a position paper to him detailing their objections to the DoTC order.

Necessary

Not all of the provisions in the DoTC order need to be suspended, said Alberto Suansing, chief of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

For instance, the provisions on safety, such as disregarding traffic signs and allowing passengers to hang on to the back of jeepneys, are clearly necessary, he said.

Land Transportation Office chief Arturo Lomibao, for his part, said he would wait for Mendoza’s decision on the deferment of the order, which he said he was only implementing. –Leila Salaverria, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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