It was only last week when the controversy involving the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Office’s pet project, the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center (PMVIC), reached a wailing crescendo as both Senate and House Committees on Transportation conducted an inquiry on their flawed operations
Faced by unsatisfactory answers and explanations by the LTO’s top brass, Senators and Congressmen seemed united in their call for the halt of PMVIC operations until a proper accounting and rationale is established by the two lead offices.
By Friday, February 12th, even the President stepped in. And through Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, declared that Motor Vehicle Inspection Service or MVIS, under which the PMVIC project is attached, is no longer mandatory.
Unfortunately, instead of clarifying the matter, Secretary Roque’s statement only caused more confusion because motor vehicle inspection is, by law, a prerequisite to every vehicle registration. The noble aim of cancelling out any additional expenditures by the public during this pandemic, seems to have been lost with more questions needing to be answered coming into the weekend.
Can a car owner whose vehicle is up for registration, forego bringing his car to the LTO for any sort of inspection then? What will happen to the stenciling, checking of the OR and CR documents? LTO motor vehicle inspectors were the ones who did those. What will happen to the PMVICs? Who will avail of their services now that it is no longer mandatory? How will they recoup their investments? Who caused all this mess in the first place? Can PMVIC owners sue for damages caused by unfulfilled expectations?
The whole week seemed to sum up the sad, sorry state of Philippine motoring. A culture of neglect, ignorance, inconsistency, inefficiency and lack of accountability best describes the current state of our transportation, public and private. And no, it did not just start in this administration. It has been brewing even before I started driving 30 years ago.
So what really is wrong with our motoring culture? Let me tell you this, it is not the sheer volume of cars nor the lack of roads. Nor is it the vacuum in infrastructure which this administration’s Build, Build, Build program is trying to fill in. It is not the lack of planning and foresight on the transportation and mobility demands of our growing nation.
It is not the lack of safe, comfortable and reliable public transportation solutions which the people can rely on to get them to their destinations. Neither is it the discombobulated private motorist policies that seem to lack in-depth thought and planning, preparation and proper implementation. It is not even the prevailing corruption on so many levels that have become normal practice in order to get things done.
Seriously, these are all just the symptoms of something more sinister that has been seething through our social fabric for close to four decades, or more. The real problem we have with our motoring culture is, the people.
When the LTO collects fees for stickers and license plates and does not turn them over even after years of repeating the practice, it is the people behind this negligence that should be put to task.
When drivers acquire their licenses unscrupulously, or opt to register their vehicles via non-appearance schemes, whether through a fixer or a “connection from the inside”, these people have elected to become part of the problem.
When a couple hundred meters of a new road is left unfinished for years because funds have run out, it is the fault of the corrupt who would siphon away money as kickbacks from the contract.
When supposed policy-makers bypass laws and oversight and take it upon themselves to implement, as Senator Grace Poe puts it, “half-baked” measures without extensive consultation and consideration, then they are doing a disservice to the public by ignoring their basic needs and ignoring their limitations.
And when politicians dilly-dally in crafting laws that will strengthen our automotive manufacturing capabilities, create a conducive investor environment for businesses to put up shop, and help create jobs in the auto industry, it is these people who fail miserably in their duty of guaranteeing the best for our country.
Counterflowers, speed limit breakers, lane-cutters, illegal parkers, jaywalkers, carnappers, drivers that do not have a license, traffic enforcers who extort money, road ragers and even the ambulant vendor who stands in the middle of a highway to sell chicharon and bottled water. This is all of us. And we are all part of the problem.
The mere fact that we merrily go on our way, ignoring the motoring issues that seemingly do not affect us because we are too busy to be bothered is evidence enough that we are complicit in our very own demise.
What should be done is for everyone to take a stand. To stop tolerating mediocrity and start promoting learned discussion. We should participate in threshing out our issues because in the end, we will all be affected in one way or another.
We should not sit idly by when we see a wrong being committed in front of our eyes. And neither should we keep silent when our very freedoms and conveniences are slowly being taken away from us without any sound justification or remuneration.
In the end, it only takes a good man to do nothing for evil to persist.
Motoring and motorsports are two of Mikko’s greatest passions. Combining more than twenty years of professional automotive photography and videography experience with years of touring car racing competition, and a deep understanding of the car industry, from both the manufacturers’ and consumers’ points of view, have given him a unique and insightful perspective in the motoring beat.