No need to confiscate a driver’s license

By Herbert Vego

WHICH is which?  There seems to be two conflicting reports on Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas with regard to apprehension of traffic violators by his subordinates at the Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO).

The other day, Daily Guardian’s Joseph B.A. Marzan reported, “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).”

DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla had cited a special law, Republic Act 4136, which specifically provides that only the LTO and its deputized agents can confiscate drivers’ licenses.

Marzan quoted Treñas, “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.”

Yes, “in the middle of the road”. This does not complement the enforcers bad habit of hiding behind a bush or a pole, hoping to catch a prey.

Earlier, however, the mayor had maintained that the opinions of the DOJ and DILG could not supersede an ordinance duly approved by the city council, referring to Regulation Ordinance No. 338, authorizing the city’s traffic aides to confiscate driver’s licenses.

This ordinance had been challenged by Atty. Dan Catagena.  But in a decision dated May 22, 2017, the Regional Trial Court (RTC Branch 26) ruled that the city government has the power to confiscate driver’s licenses for certain violations.

I would like to think that a “pause” in confiscation of drivers’ licenses is the mayor’s way of preventing arguments – which could spark violence — between traffic enforcers and apprehended motorists.

I remember that time when PSTMO head Jeck Conlu – while guesting on the late Vicente “Danny Baby” Foz’s “Panay Monitor” video program – said it was not necessary to confiscate a driver’s license in order to issue a traffic citation ticket.

If I may voice out my two cents’ worth and if I understood Mr. Conlu right, the city could impose citation fines without confiscating licenses, as in Metro Manila.

Traffic enforcers in Metro Manila may not be forced to confiscate the driver’s license of motorists who violate traffic laws, according to San Juan City Mayor and Metro Manila Council (MMC) President Francis Zamora. If the violator decides not to pay the fine for the violations he committed, it will appear in the record of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

When it comes time for him to renew his license, his name will appear in the LTO system. Refusal to pay fines could be ground for the LTO to suspend or revoke drivers’ licenses under RA 4136 (Section 27).

Back to where we are, by merely threatening to confiscate an apprehended motorist’s license, any PSTMO traffic enforcer “invites” the latter to offer a bribe.

And who is the underpaid enforcer who would refuse if the price is right?  Let’s say one in a million!

Don’t you agree, Kagawad Romel Duron?



IN a chit-chat at Hotel del Rio yesterday, we asked MORE Power President Roel Z. Castro, “Totoo ba ang tsismis?”

Yes, the rumor is true: The company would soon go into another service-oriented business by fielding ten units of e-bus in Iloilo City.  It remains to be seen, however, how these electric buses would be routed.

Probably, each bus would be numbered (as in the United States) in accordance with its destination routes.

Why not do it the New Zealand way as well?

“On arriving at the Auckland Airport in New Zealand,” I told Sir Roel and fellow journalists of my experience in 2016, “I boarded an airport bound for all hotels of the city, free of charge. A co-passenger told me that since it’s the hotels paying the buses on fixed monthly billings, tourists would not miss the hotels they would check into.”

Each MORE e-bus will accommodate 20 comfortably-seated passengers, plus 10 more on “standing ovation”.

An e-bus will make no use of fossil fuel. It has a battery which may be charged and recharged on electrical outlets every 100 kilometers.