‘FOCUS ON MANAGEMENT’: City pauses nabbing traffic rules violators because of DOJ opinion

Traffic enforcers flag a vehicle parked on the sidewalk in Iloilo City. (PSTMO photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Iloilo City government will pause its apprehension of traffic ordinance violators in the meantime while formulating its next steps in the wake of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) latest opinion stating that local government units (LGUs) cannot confiscate driver’s licenses issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on Sunday said that he would wait for the City Legal Office’s opinion on their next steps.

He said in a statement that they will just reiterate instructions on management until these become the norm with the city government’s employed traffic aides.

“We just need to continue making the instructions again and again until it becomes part of the system of our traffic aides. Regular training is important so that everyone is well-equipped. Traffic management is important not apprehensions,” the mayor said.

In an earlier statement also on Sunday, the mayor said their current move is to place traffic aides in the middle of the roads to help in traffic management.

“I am instructing the traffic aides to always be in the middle of the roads to aid in the management of traffic. There is no need to apprehend violators. It is only important that motorists are assisted and traffic is minimized. Jeck Conlu and other officials of the PSTMO are directed to ensure that these are followed,” he said.

Treñas hinted to media via Viber that they may take the national government to court if the City Legal Office’s opinion provides such a recommendation.

“I always follow the opinion of the [City Legal Office] on the legality of any action on any law or ordinance. Otherwise, [that is no longer] rule of law,” he said.

Prior to this statement, he shared a 2013 news report from GMA News Online where the Court of Appeals upheld traffic ordinances by Metro Manila LGUs.

The 16-page resolution, penned by Ilonggo CA Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon, cited the LGU’s powers under Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991, as amended).

This, despite the powers of the Land Transportation Office under Rep. Act No. 4136 (Land Transportation and Traffic Code) to confiscate traffic violators’ licenses and that of the Metro Manila Development Authority under its charter (Rep. Act No. 7924) to enforce traffic laws in the National Capital Region.

DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on May 15, released Opinion No. 16, which stated that LGUs must take full consideration to Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 01, series of 2008.

The JMC was penned by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), which is the predecessor of today’s Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The JMC stated that the LGUs may issue traffic citation tickets, but the power of confiscation of licenses was lodged with the LTO.

The DILG had reiterated the JMC in a memorandum to LGUs dated September 14, 2022, which had

In response to the DOJ Opinion, Treñas on Thursday asserted the supremacy of the city’s Ordinance No. 338, which provides the Transportation Management and Traffic Regulation Office (TMTRO) with the power to confiscate driver’s licenses for local traffic violations.

This ordinance was upheld in 2017 by the Iloilo City RTC, citing the lack of conflict between the relevant provisions of the ordinance and of Rep. Act No. 4136.

The TMTRO is a division of the city government’s Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO).

“There is an existing ordinance which was approved by the city council on the authority of the city thru the traffic aides to confiscate driver’s licenses. The said ordinance was questioned in court and the constitutionality of the same was upheld. As city mayor, it is my responsibility to implement the provisions of the ordinance thru the traffic aides. We will follow the rule of law,” Treñas said.

The city council’s Transportation committee chairperson, Councilor Sedfrey Cabaluna, said last year that the ordinance was already being reviewed.