SC upholds DOTr order on fines against ‘colorum’ PUV operators, erring drivers


THE Supreme Court (SC) has declared constitutional the orders issued by Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) imposing higher fines against operators of “colorum” vehicles and erring drivers.

In a 69-page decision penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, the Court en banc held that the imposition of higher fines against erring motorists and operators of public utility vehicles (PUVs) under LTO Department Order (DO) No. 2008-39 and its amended version Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2014-01 are necessary to promote public safety and welfare.

LTO DO 2008-39, which came to effect in March 2009, imposes a penalty of P5,000 on drunk drivers and P10,000 on drivers under the influence of drugs.

It also imposes fines of P1,500 for driving without license; P400 for driving with an expired license; P2,000 for possessing a fake driver’s license; P3,000 for conviction for a crime perpetrated with the use of a motor vehicle; and P6,000 for driving a public utility vehicle out of line.

The order also imposes a fine of P50,000 on public utility jeepneys plying the routes without franchise; P6,000 for motorcycles; P120,000 for sedans; P200,000 for vans; and up to P1 million for buses.

The operators’ certificate of public convenience  (CPC) and registration will also be revoked and their vehicles will be impounded for three months.

However, the SC declared, “To aggravate the already pernicious nature of the roads is the proliferation of colorum vehicles. As their continued conduct absent requisite authority immeasurably endanger the lives of the riding public, it is necessary for the State, pursuant to its police power devolving unto the DOTC [now Department of Transportation or DOTr] and its agencies, to place reasonable restrictions in the form of higher fees and stricter penalties upon the operation of motor vehicles.”

The ruling stemmed from the consolidated petitions filed by various operators, drivers and various transport groups assailing the constitutionality of the said orders.

The petitioners include Angat Tsuper Samahan ng Mga Tsuper At Operator ng Pilipinas (Angat Tsuper/Stop and Go) and its affiliate groups; Maria Basa Express Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association Inc.; Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston); Ximex Delivery Express Inc.; National Confederation of Transport Workers Inc. and its affiliate groups.

They named the Department of now DOTr, Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board as respondents.

The petitioners argued that DO No. 2008-39 and JAO No. 2014-01 are unconstitutional for being arbitrary, unreasonable, excessive, confiscatory and oppressive considering that the income of PUV drivers and operators ranged from P100 to P500 per day only.

They added that the orders were issued in violation of their constitutional right to due process and equal protection clause.

The petitioners also insisted that the orders are unconstitutional for being an invalid exercise of police power and for being vague and overbroad.

Image credits: Ed Davad