Press Releases

Salceda to push for amendments to Traffic Code to protect ordinary motorists, transport sector workers, allow easier appeals with “no contact policy” violations; Motorist Bill of Rights being eyed

July 14th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) has said that he will propose amendments to the 58-year-old Traffic Code of the Philippines, in response to worries that the expansion of “no-contact-apprehension” programs across more cities and thoroughfares would violate due process of ordinary motorists and transport sector workers, such as transport network vehicle service drivers and food delivery rides.

“The intention is all fair and good: after all, any frequent driver in Metro Manila’s streets will be quick to recount experiences of extortion attempts or ‘kotong’ by traffic enforcers. The ideal outcome is that kotong is minimized and drivers avoid crossing street rules, knowing that no violation will be left uncaught by the ever-seeing cameras,” Salceda said of new no-contact apprehension coverage areas.

“But, as with all cases of systemic misbehavior, kotong and the public’s acquiescence to such attempts come from a policy failure in the way we conduct the business of enforcing traffic rules. The problem arises from the lack of a system for adjudicating transport violations and the absence of any articulation of motorist rights and protections,” Salceda added.

“In other words, very few protections exist for ordinary motorists. And once you are told to be violating traffic rules, you stand almost no chance of disputing the finding,” Salceda added.

Salceda cited the practice in other countries, where traffic violations can be appealed.

“In many municipal jurisdictions in the United States and other countries that enforce some form of no contact apprehension, the offender is allowed to dispute the finding of violation or to appeal for a reduction of the fine through a municipal judge. Like all juridical proceedings, the judge will assess the appeal and consider mitigating or aggravating circumstances, including the reasons for the violation and the capacity to pay. In cases where the offender is unable to pay the fine, the judge may sometimes impose alternative forms of penalty, such as community service,” Salceda cited.

“There is no such mechanism in the Philippines that is as accessible or as reassuringly fair to the drivers – especially to those who make a living out of being on the road. In many ways, the vacuum in the role of a municipal judge deciding a final penalty for traffic violations is filled by the ‘kotong’ traffic enforcer, with whom the driver can at least argue his case, negotiate a penalty, and resolve his record.”

“You can see the frustration among road users such as food delivery riders, who have made their sentiments known to the public by electing to Congress the second-largest vote-getter in the 2022 Party List Elections – 1-Rider, which made its name by helping out riders caught in unfair traffic enforcement situations,” Salceda cited.

Fair traffic rules are “economic rights”

“The intentions of no contact apprehension are good, and perhaps they might work out. But the Constitutional right to due process does not end in traffic law, and for the time being, no contact apprehension appears not to give enough room for such right, to fairness or remedial recourse.”

“And, in a country where at least 2 million drivers make their living on the road, the driver’s right to due process is intimately bound to the economic right to making a decent living without undue interference from the government. Especially during a time when transport sector workers are temporarily or permanently quitting the road, putting us in real danger of a public transport shortage, this is a policy failure we cannot simply hide under the rug.”

“Local governments and the transport agencies within the Executive can resolve this policy failure immediately. The DOTr, as the country’s main transport sector agency, can issue guidelines to harmonize the process of traffic apprehension, dispute, resolution, and penalty in the country. Republic Act No. 4167, or the Traffic Code of the Philippines, gives the Land Transportation Office the mandate to do that, as well.”

Amendments to Traffic Code mulled, Motorist Bill of Rights and assistance center

“At the same time, we in Congress also have a job to do. The Traffic Code is 58 years old now. It could not have anticipated transport network vehicle services, the proliferation of motorcycles, new electric vehicles, or the emerging call for more pedestrian rights. I hope to work with the transport sector stakeholders to craft amendments to that Code, which does not even have a section devoted to disputing transport violations or articulating the rights of road users.”

Salceda said that he will file a motorist bill of rights and mandate the creation of a Motorist Advocacy and Assistance Center to aid ordinary motorists in difficult circumstances in the road. Salceda says he hopes that the proposal will “add a motorist-protection dimension to the country’s transport laws.”

“The enduring legacy of Build, Build, Build will be more transport infrastructure than any prior generation of Filipinos has seen. We will have more roads than all of our ancestors. But, as we aim to have in the rest of society, these roads must be places where the fair conduct of rights and duties prevails,” Salceda added.

Other Press Releases
The AO will make food cheaper. Right now, it’s very difficult as an honest exporter to sell food to the Philippines.
Read More
Statement on the pronouncements against the Public Service Act amendments (RA 11659)
Read More
Statement on the February 2024 jobs report
Read More
Statement on the March 2024 inflation figures
Read More