Upon the urging of Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade and other government officials, Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center (PMVIC) owners have agreed to lower their testing fees and waive their retesting fees for one year. In a press conference held on February 11, 2021, by the DOTr, Vehicle Inspection Center Operators Association of the Philippines (VICOAP) President Iñigo Larrazabal said “In the same way that we responded to the first call of the government about roadworthiness and made the investment without hesitation, we continue to believe that this is a good and worthy program. Working closely with Congress, the DOTr, and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), we have as a group agreed to lower our fees during this pandemic. The new fees are as follows: P600 for light vehicles; P500 for motorcycles; and P300 for public utility jeepneys.”
“We understand fully that given today’s economic climate, many Filipinos are struggling financially. Many have lost their jobs while others are struggling to change industries. We understand that the added cost of vehicle inspections will be difficult for many,” added Larrazabal.
While acknowledging that MVICs are not mandated for vehicle registration as per President Duterte's announcement earlier that day, Larrazabal said, “Our work in PMVICs goes beyond compliance and regulation. This is about saving lives. No one can mandate us to save other people’s lives; this is our moral obligation to make sure that our vehicles are safe not just for our families, but that we don’t pose a threat to others on the road.“
LTO Asec. Edgar Galvante agreed with Larrazabal that the “primordial concern right now is safety,” adding that his organization “will work closely and extend their assistance” to the MVICs to prioritize this concern.
The DOTr and the VICOAP’s decision was a response to the call of yesterday’s Congressional hearing for the Committee on Transportation where Committee Chair Rep. Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo, and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Macapagal Arroyo appealed to PMVIC owners to help motorists who are currently financially struggling.
Rep. Sarmiento said that it would relieve many Filipinos if the retesting fees were reconsidered. “I-regalo lang muna natin sa mga mamayan,” said Rep. Sarmiento. “Can you do that for this country?”
He added that the request to PMVICs to waive the retesting fees was part of the “birth pains” in forming a lasting solution to the problem of road accidents that have been costing lives and damaging property. Rep. Sarmiento also expressed support of the PMVICs: “‘We are here to help a project that is very laudable.”
Motorcycle Rights Organization Chairperson Jobert Bolaños welcomed collaboration with the PMVICs and the government. He said, “May kasunduan kami with LTO na maayos ang regulation. The PMVICs reached out to MRO, and we are working with the owners on their system and processes to make sure everything is done right, fair, and proper for all vehicles, including the two-wheeled ones.”
Clean Air Philippines Movement Incorporated (CAPMI) President, Dr. Leo Olarte, equated vehicular accidents to an epidemic that should be addressed. He maintained, “About 80% of the air pollution in our country, especially in Metro Manila, comes from unmaintained vehicles. Road accidents happen every year. As a doctor, I can sympathize with their victims. Let us help mitigate the pain as we fight an equally urgent emergency.”
With over 12,000 Filipinos tragically losing their lives annually to road accidents, the second leading cause of which is a mechanical failure, the government’s PMVIC program seeks to bolster road safety in the Philippines by ensuring only roadworthy vehicles are allowed on the road.
PMVICs check for over 60 different indicators, including brakes, lights, wheel alignment, and more, to assess whether or not a vehicle is roadworthy. In the past, motor vehicles were only required to comply with a single mandatory emissions test, which alone cannot guarantee people’s safety on the road.
“Even with the lockdown, there was no significant drop in the number of car accidents. That just shows that it is time to take action and do something about it,” said Larrazabal. “That is why VICOAP was formed. No Filipino deserves to lose their life for something that can easily be prevented.”
To clarify the confusion caused by simultaneous opposing statements, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was quoted today, February 12, 2021, during his Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH Media Interview that it is now required to have either an MVIS or emission testing certification for LTO Registration.