At a Senate hearing last week, minority leader Drilon asked the transportation department regarding its basis for allowing private sector entities to conduct vehicle inspection as a condition to registration.
Drilon expressed reservations, contending that police powers have been delegated by law to regulatory agencies of government, and not to private testing outfits. This delegation is alarming because motor vehicle evaluation is conducted for a fee – chargeable to the owner.
This is prone to corruption, which can seep in the accreditation process up to the actual evaluation itself.
Government has in effect turned over its regulatory functions to the private sector. The exercise of governmental powers by private entities is at once legally problematic because governance must be performed by those who are publicly accountable.
The power to license is an adjunct of regulatory power. It involves the coercive power of the State to collect fees from the general population, in order to promote public interest, which in this case is purportedly to make our streets safe from rundown vehicles.
This means that private inspection entities will have captive customers, i.e., the private car owners who have no choice but to shell out a pre-determined amount to be able to satisfy certain standards of roadworthiness.
There is no better business model. Demand is at once created, to the benefit of these favored actors from the private sector.
The Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) excuse does not address this basic legal impediment. During the hearing, transportation assistant secretary Giovanni Lopez said that the DOTr and LTO had already been given funding for a mobile motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) for public utility vehicles. The funding came from the defunct road board.
The Philippine International Trading System was asked to procure the MVIS but was unable to do so, resulting in the return of the funds to the public treasury.
Government inefficiency in public spending is this now being cured through this ill-conceived delegation of authority to the private sector. It is as if citizens are being penalized for the government’s shortcomings.
The President was constrained to suspend the implementation of a compulsory inspection system, but only because this will add further burdens to the ordinary Filipino who is already struggling with high expenses and less income during the pandemic.
A great number of our countrymen have been forced by circumstances to acquire privately driven motor vehicles with great strain on their daily budget. The public transportation system is so dismally inadequate that commuting to work, business, and even leisure, has become a daily tribulation that can stretch one’s patience beyond limits.
It is a citizen’s right to demand a better quality of life from the government that he employs. The LTO is the agency required by law to make this possible. A delegation of power to the private sector presents problems regarding standards and accountability.
Filipinos are conscientious in taking care of their vehicles. Until government is fully capacitated to comply with its mandate to regulate ownership, a faulty vehicle inspection system must in the meantime be subordinate to the citizen’s right to life and locomotion./WDJ