Following numerous complaints about the Land Transportation Office (LTO)–and more recently, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA)–suddenly apprehending 4×4 vehicles for what the law enforcement officials are calling “illegal modifications” on “modified vehicles,” the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has stepped in to clarify the issue for the benefit of the aggrieved parties.
So for everyone’s benefit, here’s the joint–and unedited–statement released today by the DOTr and LTO for everyone’s guidance.
“On the alleged arbitrary apprehension of owners of modified vehicles
“The Land Transportation Office (LTO) is NOT arbitrarily and subjectively apprehending owners of modified vehicles.
“However, the LTO must implement the existing law.
“Modification of a motor vehicle was defined by Department Order No. 2010-32 dated 08 September 2010 with subject: Harmonization of Motor Vehicle (MV) Classifications of LTO and LTFRB.
“The DO is aligned with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE), the standard followed by other ASEAN countries.
“Section 5, Number 5.2 of the Order states: “The modifications involving safety and environment shall not be allowed, such as the following: Axle modification; Chassis modification; Extended chassis/body; Additional siding of dump trucks; Extended overhang; Change of rim size; Modification of handle bar and muffler; and Reconfiguration of body dimension and design.”
“Modification, or physical change in the existing motor vehicle design, is allowed provided a Certificate of Road Safety from the manufacturer can be presented by the owner, to prove that the modification will not compromise, in any way, safety. The same is also subject to inspection by the LTO for possible reclassification.
“Please note that tampering with the engine performance, drivetrain, suspension, wheels, and brakes of a vehicle, which are outside the approved parameters or its basic components, may affect its performance, and may compromise safety.
“On the other hand, enhancements to features and performance such as interior and exterior trimmings are allowed, for as long as the existing design of the vehicle is not compromised.
“The Department of Trade and Industry likewise came up with Philippine National Standards (PNS) to cover locally rebuilt vehicles such as jeepneys.
“The assumption that the LTO is focusing its resources on apprehending owners of modified vehicles is not fair. The Law Enforcement Unit of the LTO is out there on the road every day, apprehending ALL types of violators.
“As a matter of fact, only one modified vehicle has been impounded in the most recent operation held in NLEX, and the reason for it is because the vehicle is not currently registered.
“The DOTr-LTO appreciates the ongoing discussion on this matter, most prominently on social media. In the spirit of transparency and good governance, our doors are open for a dialogue where recommendations and suggestions may be presented and discussed, putting on topmost priority the safety and welfare of the public.”
From what we’ve gathered, based on DO 2010-32, while the LTO concedes that modifications to the brake system, steering wheel assembly, air conditioning system, suspension, and interior and exterior trimmings don’t necessarily warrant a change in a vehicle’s classification, it seems the following modifications to a vehicle are considered illegal:
- Axle modification;
- Chassis modification;
- Extended chassis/body;
- Additional sidings of dump trucks;
- Extended overhang;
- Change of rim size;
- Modification of handle bar and muffler; and
- Reconfiguration of body dimension and design.
Furthermore, all modified vehicles proven to have violated the guidelines set by the DO “shall be put ‘on alarm’ and may not be registered.”
So, it seems the drama is far from over as the issue extends well beyond the DOTr as it also involves the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Product Standards and the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council.
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