By Jennifer P. Rendon
Traffic enforcers employed by the Iloilo City government started confiscating driver’s licenses of erring motorists on Monday, Oct 3, 2022.
But Mayor Jerry Treñas clarified that only licenses of drivers who violate the city’s ordinance will be confiscated.
When asked for their legal basis once challenged, Treñas said they are implementing Regulation Ordinance No. 338, which authorizes policemen and traffic aides to confiscate driver’s licenses.
To avoid conflicts with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), he said that they would leave the matter to LTO if the driver commits traffic violations other than the city’s ordinance.
Prior to this, Treñas has already declared that they would allow traffic aides to confiscate driver’s licenses.
He cited that the local government units are also mandated by Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code to impose traffic rules.
For some, this is considered a bold move since the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a memorandum reiterating “the pertinent provisions on road safety and transportation.”
Dated Sept. 14, 2022 and signed by DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr., the memorandum addressed to all governors, city and municipal mayors, presiding officers and members of the Sanggunian at the provincial, city, and municipal levels, DILG regional directors, BARMM minister of the Interior and Local Governor, and others concerned stated that “the LGUs can issue traffic citation tickets but only the LTO and their deputized agents can confiscate drivers’ licenses.”
This is relative to the provision of the DILG-DOTC Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 01, S. 2008, with subject “Guidelines in the Review of Local Ordinances, Orders, Rules, and Regulations Concerning Public Transportation.”
On Sept 24, Treñas issued a statement that “in compliance with the directive of DILG Secretary that the traffic aides of the LGU are not authorized to confiscate drivers licenses, the LGU of Iloilo City will refrain from doing so.”
“The LTO law was approved in 1964 while the local government code under which the ordinance creating the traffic aides was enacted in the 1980s,” he said.
Treñas noted that traffic aide positions were created to fill a gap when the PNP concentrated only on peace and order. The ordinance of the city was questioned in the RTC and was upheld.
“I will endeavor to have all the traffic aides deputized by the LTO. In the meantime, happy driving everyone,” he said.
But on Sept 27, Treñas wrote Abalos appealing “to accommodate the deputation of the local traffic enforcers.”
“We believe that with this deputation, order and safety will continue in the city as motorists will be more mindful to keep and obey traffic rules,” he said.
Treñas noted that the orderliness and stringent implementation of traffic rules rely on the number of enforcers deployed on the ground.
As it is, these local traffic enforcers work as multipliers of the LTO, he said.
He also said that he ordered local traffic enforcers to refrain from confiscating drivers’ licenses of traffic violators to show good faith and compliance.
Treñas said that he also reached out to LTO and requested the revision of their policy in order to accommodate the deputation of local traffic enforcers of Iloilo City.
Although they are classified as job orders, traffic enforcers were hired by the city government and trained to work directly and actually in relation to traffic law enforcement.
“They have been authorized by the city’s Ordinance No. 338 as early as 1992 to apprehend traffic violators, issue tickets, and confiscate driver’s licenses of erring drivers. These local traffic enforcers are very much qualified to act as LTO deputized agents,” he said.
When asked if his office is ready to be questioned for his decision to allow local traffic enforcers to confiscate drivers’ licenses, Treñas noted that a lawyer has already questioned Ordinance No. 338 in Court “but the same decided that there is no conflict between it and Republic Act 4136, otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.”
He cited that according to the Regional Trail Court 6 (RTC-6) Branch 26, Iloilo City, in a Declaratory Relief case, Ordinance No. 338 and RA 4136 are rather complimentary.”
The court, in a decision dated May 22, 2017, stated among others, that “Section 62 of Republic Act 4136 juxtapose(s) with Ordinance No. 338, contrary to the concept of the petitioner, there is no conflict between the two provisions and complement each other in the exercise of traffic management.”