When it comes to ensuring road safety in the Philippines, it seems Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino has one of the toughest jobs.
Pursuant to Republic Act No. 7924, the MMDA handles transport and traffic management in Metro Manila. The jurisdiction of MMDA includes the busiest and most traffic problematic area in the Philippines — the EDSA highway. According to Chairman Tolentino, traffic congestion is aggravated when the number of road accidents reaches over 20. In EDSA, an average of 28 road accidents occur daily.
Chairman Tolentino personally joined Legal Help Desk on CNN Philippines last May 12, 2015 to help answer viewers' questions and to give tips on road safety.
CNN Philippines' Atty. Karen Jimeno and MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino
Currently, laws and regulations on road safety include prohibitions on jaywalking, over-speeding, reckless driving, drunk driving, and rules applicable to the use of bus stops, motorcycle lanes, motorcycle helmets and lights. The usual violations encountered by the MMDA include illegal counter-flow, obstruction, non-observance of traffic signs, illegal parking, non-use of pedestrian footbridges, and jaywalking.
MMDA officers can apprehend violators of traffic regulations.
If a motorist is apprehended by an MMDA officer, here are some guidelines based on MMDA rules and tips given by Chairman Tolentino on Legal Help Desk:
Park your car at the side of the road
Do not alight from the vehicle. Let the MMDA officer approach your car
When requested by the MMDA officer, motorists must show their driver's license and vehicle registration
Motorists may demand to see an MMDA officer's "Mission Order" which indicates an officer's area of responsibility, time of duty, official function and authority to issue tickets
A motorist can question an MMDA officer's ability to apprehend if such officer is acting outside of his/her Mission Order
Apprehending MMDA officers are required to be courteous
Apprehended motorists should also be courteous. (Recently, the MMDA filed criminal cases against the motorist who killed an MMDA officer as the latter's arm got caught in the car while the motorist was trying to evade apprehension, thereby dragging the MMDA officer as the motorist's car sped through the highway.)
A motorist can question the apprehension or issuance of a ticket by the MMDA officer by filing a contest with the MMDA's Traffic Adjudication Division within five days after apprehension.
One of the most frequently asked questions is whether MMDA officers can confiscate a driver's license.
Under current regulations, the general rule is that a traffic enforcer cannot confiscate a driver's license. However, a driver's license may be confiscated in the following situations:
the driver was involved in a traffic accident
the driver has accumulated three or more unsettled violations
the driver has been apprehended for certain types of violations such as (but not limited to)allowing another person to use his/her driver's license, operating a colorum vehicle
driving against traffic; driving through an illegal or unauthorized counter-flow
using illegally transferred car plates; or overspeeding.
If the driver refuses to surrender his/her driver's license, the car's plate may be detached by the apprehending MMDA officer.
When asked about applications that provide public transportation services, Chairman Tolentino confided that he initially supported apps like Uber because of the benefits they provided to the riding public.
Recently, drivers for Uber and similar apps were declared illegal if operating without the required license for public utility vehicles.
Chairman Tolentino revealed that MMDA will soon launch a service that he described as "Quasi-Uber". One that would provide transportation, ease traffic, and help lessen emissions.
Road accidents are one of the leading causes of death not only in the Philippines, but also around the world. While road safety is recognized in the month of May, it is something that must be observed year round.
For traffic concerns or complaints within Metro Manila, the MMDA may be reached at its hotline: 136, or the Metrobase at 0917-527-7304. E-mails may also be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atty. Karen Jimeno hosts CNN Philippines' Legal Help Desk every Tuesday at 9:30PM. She is a practicing attorney licensed in the Philippines and in New York. She is also a professor of law. You may send your legal questions to email@example.com.