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The Vehicle Inspection Center Operators Association of the Philippines (VICOAP), the 80-strong group of Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers (PMVICs) in the country has pledged its support for the government’s program to increase the standards of roadworthiness.

PMVICs were developed as part of a government initiative that first launched the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) in 1983 in order to ensure that the land-based vehicles, four-wheel and two-wheel alike, are capable and deemed safe to travel the roads.

Spearheaded by both the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the PMVICs elevated the standards of measurement to determine whether vehicles were safe and road-worthy.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade explained the vision that fueled the formation of the MVIS and the PMVICs, and the urgency by which the issue of the country’s roadworthiness should be addressed. “We want to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives and property along our roads, dahil ang road crash, hindi namimili ng panahon—- may pandemya man o wala. Hindi ito namimili ng biktima--mayaman man o mahirap, we can all fall victim to this 'epidemic on wheels.' Kaya po dapat lamang na i-address na natin ito," he said.

Ngayon na ang panahon upang magkaroon tayo ng mas maayos at dekalidad na sistema. We have to recover and thrive amid the pandemic, and in the face of this epidemic called road crash,” Tugade added.

The current testing that is being done by the Private Emission Testing Centers (PETCs) only focuses on the quality of the smoke produced by the vehicle being tested. This is in stark contrast to the PMVICs that have a more-than-60-point criterion that determines if a vehicle can be safely driven on the roads with minimum risk of causing an accident that can harm the driver, his passengers, and other people. The list checks the quality, functionality, and structural integrity of the vehicles, to see if they are in good working condition and can meet the current road requirements---or if the parts need to be fixed or replaced immediately.

The list was the product of research and benchmarking by the DOTr and the LTO. The technical working group of both organizations baselined it according to ASEAN standards while making them cognizant of the Philippine road setting. Because the process is fully automated, outcomes and results are arrived at with no human influence.

All PMVICs are equipped with technology like biometrics and CCTV cameras that record the actual tests done on the floor and can be reviewed later on. This process reduces opportunities for corruption such as the no-appearance scam. PMVIC tests only take 15 minutes and the owner has to bring a copy of the vehicle's Original Receipt / Certificate of Registration.

VICOAP President Iñigo Larrazabal said, “We are constantly gathering data across the entire inspection process----data which can reveal any statistical anomalies that would point to corruption. And because most parts of the process are automated, we know that they cannot be tampered with. In other cases, we can review the data in vulnerable areas to identify any patterns of abuse so we can then act accordingly.

He also likened the PMVIC vehicular tests as similar to a thorough executive medical exam given a patient, where critical parts of his physiology are checked through x-ray, CT scan, and blood work, among other medical equipment. “In the PMVIC test, we check everything. Because we are talking about the safety of lives,” Larrazabal said.

Sec. Tugade also said that the thoroughness and accuracy of the PMVIC tests and their results deserve continuing public support, and not knee-jerk criticism: Pitumpu't tatlo (73) ang nasa checklist ng inspection--kasama na ang emission test, alignment ng gulong, brake system, ilaw, makina at marami pang iba--bakit may mga batikos pa din? Bakit 'di natin sabihin, Hay, salamat! Mas masisiguro ko ang kaligtasan ko at ng aking mga kaanak at mahal sa buhay."