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Page added on July 28, 2018

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Appeals Court sustains installation of GPS by buses

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its decision that allowed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to compel all public utility buses in the country to install Global Positioning System (GPS) to enhance service and road safety.

In a resolution written by Associate Justice Rafael Antonio Santos, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Nagkakaisang Samahan ng mga Nangangasiwa ng Panlalawigang Bus sa Pilipinas, formerly the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines.

“After a careful scrutiny of the arguments raised in the instant motion, this Court finds that the same must be denied for lack of merit. The instant motion does not raise new and substantial issues that would warrant the reversal of this Court’s decision dated Feb. 27, 2018,” the CA ruled.

The CA’s February decision affirmed the ruling handed down by the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) which declared constitutional LTFRB’s Memorandum Circular Nos. 2015-021 and 2015-026 issued on June 26, 2015 and Nov. 16, 2015, respectively.

Earlier, the LTFRB had said the circulars implement the GPS Project that is aimed at promoting road safety and improving land transportation services. It said the project is also aimed at lessening road accidents by monitoring the speed of PUBs through a GPS device.

It also said the GPS Project will improve the services of PUBs because bus operators can now track the routes of their buses, monitor the location and flow of buses, and inform the passengers of the waiting time at the stations.

Under the provisions of the circulars, all bus operators are required to install and register GPS devices on their units based on the following schedule:

1. For provincial buses entering Metro Manila: on or before April 30, 2016

2. For Metro Manila buses: May 1 to Aug. 30, 2016

3. For inter-regional buses not entering Metro Manila: Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016

4. For intra-regional buses: Jan. 1 to April 30, 2017

The circulars prohibit bus operators from allowing their units to ply their routes if they know or have a reasonable belief that the GPS device is not functioning or defective.

They also mandate that non-installation of the GPS device will be penalized P5,000 per unit and an additional of P1,000 per unit per month after a grace period of 30 days is granted counting from the end of the compliance period.

Also, the tampering of the GPS device will also be penalized under the circulars with P5,000 for the first offense, P10,000 for the second offense, and P15,000 and the suspension of their certificate of public convenience (CPC) for 30 days for the third and subsequent offenses.

In upholding the ruling of the RTC, the CA said that contrary to the claim of the petitioners, the GPS project is actually based on a “well-thought out and carefully deliberated plan.”

The CA said the power and authority of LTFRB to issue memorandum circulars is clearly provided under the Administrative Code of 1987.

“The installation of a GPS device in public utility buses is in furtherance of the respondent-appellee LTFRB mandate to ‘formulate… rules and regulations requiring operators of any public land transportation service to equip, install and provide in their utilities and in their stations such devices, equipment, facilities and operating procedures and techniques as may promote safety, protection, comfort and convenience to persons and property in their charges as well as the safety of persons and property within their areas of operation’” the CA stressed.

On the imposition of penalties, the CA said the Department of Transportation, through the LTFRB, is also vested with the power under the Administrative Code of 1987 to “establish and prescribe the corresponding rules and regulations for enforcement of laws governing land transportation, air transportation and postal services, including the penalties for violations thereof.”


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