A LAWYER has joined several transport groups in petitioning the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the no-contact apprehension policy (NCAP) being implemented by several local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila.
Lawyer Juman B. Paa filed the petition after being compelled to pay huge fines and penalties for four traffic violations (obstruction of the pedestrian lane) he allegedly committed between May and July 2021 in the City of Manila, as captured through the NCAP before he could register his vehicle.
He named the Manila City government through Mayor Honey Lacuna and the Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Maynila as respondents in the petitioner.
Manila’s NCAP is being implemented by virtue of City Ordinance No. 8676, Series of 2020.
Paa asked that the NCAP be declared unconstitutional for violating his constitutional right to due process; for being oppressive and confiscatory; and for violation of privacy rights under Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.
The petitioner said the fines imposed for the four traffic violations reached a total P13,000.
However, due to late payment of the fines, a penalty of P7,320 was imposed by the city government—equivalent to approximately 56 percent of the fine imposed or roughly, 4.6 percent penalty interest.
Paa claimed that he never received any notice of violation from the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau (MTPB) as it appeared that these notices were sent to a wrong address.
Despite this error, Paa said he was still compelled to pay the fines and their corresponding penalties.
The implementation of NCAP is violative of one’s right to due process due to absence of proper notice, he said.
He said the NCAP lacks the technical capability to ensure that notices of violations are received by the motorists.
“Worse, the persons implementing the NCAP are impervious to valid reasons interposed by motorists and they continue to this day demand payment of exorbitant fines and unconscionable penalties,” the petitioner said. Paa also noted that the traffic fines and penalties being imposed by the Manila City government for obstruction of pedestrian lanes are 100 to 300 percent higher than those imposed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
For obstruction of pedestrian lanes, Manila City Hall imposes a fine of P2,000 for first offense, P3,000 for second offense and P4,000 for third offense.
However, the MMDA and LTO both impose a P1,000 fine for first up to third offense.
Paa said the 56 percent penalty imposed on unpaid fines in Manila is “unconscionable” compared to the legal interest of 12 percent.
He argued that NCAP violates the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2021 as it can be used to conduct unlawful surveillance and monitoring of people’s movements by private individuals.
A private company is performing the functions of MTPB and its employees have access to public CCTVs and data base, he explained. The petitioner noted that the NCAP web site reaily shows the violations committed by motorists just by searching the database using the vehicle plate number.
He added that the sharing of registration database of LTO to the Manila city government and any private entity provider, without the consent of data subjects, violates Sections 12 (Criteria for Lawful Processing of Personal Information) and 13 (Sensitive Personal Information and Privileged Information) of the Data Privacy Act of 2012.
On Tuesday, the SC ordered the MMDA, LTO, the City of Manila, Quezon City, Valenzuela City, Parañaque City and Muntinlupa City to comment on petitions filed by transport groups seeking to enjoin the implementation of the NCAP and declare it unconstitutional.
Among the petitioners were the Kilusan sa Pagbabago ng Industriya ng Transportasyon Inc., Pangkalahatang Sangguniang Manila and Suburbs Drivers Association Nationwide (Pasang-Masda), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization.
The petitioners said NCAP has no basis in the Republic Act 7924 that serves as the enabling charter of the MMDA and the RA 4136 which created the Land Transportation Office (LTO). The petitioners said LGU ordinances allowing NCAP are invalid since there are no existing laws passed by Congress that allows their implementation.
RA 4136, according to the petitioners, allows only face-to-face apprehension of traffic violators and that traffic violations are liability of the erring drivers, and not the registered owners.
Transport groups are also complaining against the unreasonable provisions of the NCAP that include non-renewal of the vehicle registration until such time that fines are settled and for including innocent third persons liable for traffic violations.