BAGUIO CITY — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) in Cordillera has so far rounded up 64 colorum vehicles, or public utility vehicles plying without permits, since January this year, the agency’s legal officer told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday.
Lawyer Laird Urbanozo of DOTr-Cordillera said the continuous operation against colorum vehicles in the region is in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to rid the roads of such vehicles to ensure the safety of commuters.
Urbanozo said 13 of the 64 seized vehicles had been released after a hearing and payment of fees and penalties under the Land Transportation law. The released vehicles, mostly vans, were slapped with penalties and fines totaling around PHP200,000.
The rest of the seized vehicles are still at the DOTr impounding facility in Baguio.
The lawyer, however, said the DOTr-Cordillera is saddled with lack of personnel to apprehend colorum vehicles and violators of other land transportation laws.
Urbanozo said the agency in the region has nine apprehending officers only, who operate on the various highways leading to Baguio City.
“The challenge right now is we do not have enough officers to apprehend colorum vehicles. There should always be teams regularly doing the apprehension,” he said.
He also mentioned the problem on limited space for impounded vehicles.
The Baguio City government has allotted a space at the Baguio Athletic Bowl as a temporary impounding facility, pending the establishment of a permanent impounding area.
Urbanozo said impounded vehicles could only be kept at the impounding area for up to six months. Unclaimed vehicles after that period will be auctioned off, with the Commission on Audit assessing the cost of the vehicles prior to the auction.
He also urged legitimate public utility vehicle operators to comply with the terms and conditions of the franchise given them.
“This is a privilege that the government has given you to the serve the public. Yes, it is a business, but you should always abide by the rules given by the regulatory board,” he remarked.
He said regulations are set for the operation of public utility vehicles and that the more violations committed by the operators, the more they lose their privilege.
He said the government can take back such privilege given to the operators if they could not show they deserved the privilege.
Urbanozo said apprehending officers are deployed in various areas to check on colorum vehicles, especially when more tourists flock to the region, like on holidays and the opening of classes, as a safety precaution to protect passengers. Pamela Mariz Geminiano/PNA-northboundasia.com