Transport Group Scores DOTC, LTO

Militant transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (PISTON) yesterday said that it will file a case against the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) and Land Transportation Office (LTO), alleging that these agencies' continue to defy a Baguio City court ordering traffic enforcers to stop implementing the existing schedule of fines and penalties for traffic-related violations.

PISTON president George San Mateo said they would file a case of indirect contempt of court against DoTC and LTO for their continued implementation of the "Revised Schedule of LTO Fines and Penalties for Traffic and Administrative Violations" stipulated under Department Order No. 2008-39.

This, he said, despite the May 2, 2012 decision of Baguio City Regional Trial Court Judge Antonio Esteves declaring the LTO's existing schedule of fines for traffic-rule violations as "unconstitutional" and ordered traffic law enforcers to stop implementing it.

San Mateo claimed the decision of the Baguio City Regional Trial Court is "final and executory unless the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court issues a restraining order against it."

"According to our lawyer, we can charge the DoTC and LTO for indirect contempt of court in case a motorist is apprehended and fined based on the disputed schedule of fines and penalties," he claimed.

San Mateo claimed the DoTC Secretary and the LTO Assistant Secretary may incur civil and criminal liabilities once PISTON is able to secure a permanent injunction from the court as a consequence of command responsibility.

But DoTC and LTO maintained that they will observe the status quo until the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is able to exhaust all legal remedies to overturn the lower court's ruling.

Presently, the DoTC and LTO, through the OSG, have appealed the decision before the Court of Appeals.

"The DoTC or the LTO can still appeal the RTC decision with the Court of Appeals and, if necessary, with the Supreme Court. The RTC decision will only attain finality once it is affirmed by the Supreme Court," the DoTC said in a statement.

But San Mateo insisted on PISTON's legal position, claiming that they are preparing a second wave of protest movements against the DoTC and LTO's continued defiance, apart from unabated oil price hikes.

He urged the President to instruct the DoTC and LTO chiefs to comply with the court order, especially as the power of taxation only belongs to the Congress.

San Mateo claimed the RTC order only reiterated that the power to impose tax is exclusive to the Congress, saying that by allegedly hiking traffic fines and penalties "excessively," the DoTC and LTO are actually aiming to increase the government's revenue, which is the end goal of taxation.

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