Supreme Court (SC)

The Supreme Court (SC) has decided to expedite the resolution of its temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped the implementation of the no-contract apprehension policy (NCAP) for traffic violations in several cities in Metro Manila.

Instead of the oral arguments earlier set on Jan. 24, 2023 on two cases against NCAP, the SC moved the legal debates to Dec. 6, 2022.

Also, the SC scheduled a preliminary conference on the two cases on Nov. 4, 2022.

In a resolution that was issued during its full court session last Sept. 27, the SC ordered that “the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) be furnished a copy of the Petitions, and thereafter file its comment within ten (10) days from receipt of notice.”

Last Aug. 30, the SC stopped temporarily the implementation of NCAP on two petitions. The first petition was filed by the Kilusan sa Pagbabago ng Industriya ng Transportasyon, Inc. (KAPIT), Pangkalahatang Saggunian Manila and Suburbs Drivers Association Nationwide (Pasang-Masda), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO).

The second petition was filed by lawyer Juman B. Paa who also pleaded for the issuance of a TRO against the NCAP being implemented in the City of Manila.

In its resolution that contained the TRO, the SC said: “Any apprehensions through the NCAP programs and ordinances related thereto shall be prohibited until further orders from the Court.”

It also enjoined “the Land Transportation Office and all parties acting on its behalf from giving out motorist information to all local government units, cities, and municipalities enforcing NCAP programs and ordinances.”

At the time the first petition was filed, the NCAP was being implemented in Metro Manila by the local governments of Quezon City, Manila, Valenzuela City, Muntinlupa City, and Parañaque City through their ordinances based on the 2016 resolution of the MMDA which ordered the re-implementation of NCAP.

The petitioners in the first case told the SC the implementation of NCAP is unconstitutional and thus invalid.

They alleged that the ordinances of the LGUs are violation of the existing statutes, which do not establish, authorize and even mention any no-contact apprehension; that the wordings of the Republic Act No. 4136 (LTO law) is clear, any inclusion that include NCAP, is void; that the NCAP implementation violates due process; that the NCAP provisions imposes unreasonable conditions that include non-renewal of the vehicle registration until such time that the fines are settled; and that the NCAP implementation makes innocent third persons liable for traffic violations.

In his petition, Paa asked the SC to declare unconstitutional Manila City Ordinance No. 8676, Series of 2020, on NCAP.

He said the Sangguniang Panglungsod ng Manila and Manila City Mayor Maria Sheilah Lacuna-Pangan “should be subjected to temporary restraining order for passing the assailed ordinance with attendant grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction….”

He pointed out that NCAP is unconstitutional because it violates the right to privacy of persons because anyone can access the traffic violation records of people in the city’s website by merely typing the plate number of the vehicle.

He said the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau (MTPB) has access to the database of the LTO relative to the details of the vehicle, including the name of the owner and address.

Also, he said most NCAPs in the National Capital Region (NCR) are also operated by a private firm through a profit-sharing agreement.

He pointed out that aid that “if a private company is performing the function of the MTPB, their access to the close circuit television (CCTV) footage might be used for other purposes like surveillance of a particular person thus exposing citizens to risks against safety and privacy.”

Thus, he stressed that there is a violation of the right to data privacy because the consent of the owners of the registered vehicles was not obtained before the operation of the website which contains sensitive personal information.

The SC, LTO and Metro Manila local government units were then deluged with queries on what to do with the digitized traffic violations committed by motorists prior to the Aug. 30, 2022 SC’s TRO.

“For those apprehended prior to the issuance of the TRO against NCAP, let us wait for the action of the SC in the main decision or even future order, if any,” said SC Spokesperson Brian Keith F. Hosaka.

“However, I assure the public that our Justices are aware of these concerns and they will be studying them very carefully,” Hosaka, also deputy court administrator said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (