Transport union asks SC to junk ‘excessive, illegal’ JAO 2014-01

STEPPING UP the widespread opposition of various transport organizations to the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2014-01, members and supporters of the National Confederation of Transportworkers’ Unions (NCTU-APL) picketed today the Supreme Court and filed another petition to nullify the said order for being unauthorized, unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The NCTU complaint described JAO 2014-01 as “ultra vires” or beyond the legal capacity of the government agencies that created it because they do not have even “quasi-legislative power to revise fines and penalties.”
It added that the said ordinance is “unreasonable” for its “extortionate” or excessive fines, and also “unconstitutional” for usurping the legislative powers of Congress.

“In short, JAO 2014-01 is illegal, unjust and a form of ‘legal extortion’,” Ernesto Cruz, national chairperson of NCTU, said.

The JAO 2014-01, which substantially increased “fines and penalties for violations of laws, rules and regulations governing land transportation,” was jointly crafted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and later approved by their mother agency, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Issued last June 4 by the DOTC, the JAO 2014-01 supposedly aims to instill discipline especially among drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs), prevent road accidents, ease the perennial traffic jams, clamp down on unregistered or “colorum” vehicles, among others.

Romeo Macailao, NCTU secretary general, reiterated that transport workers and union members support road courtesy and safety, concern for the commuters as well as pedestrians, and other programs and policies for the well-being of the riding public.

“We do not condone abusive and unscrupulous drivers and other transport workers, and we also want better and safer transport services, but the government should not use JAO 2014-01 at the expense of the lowly transport workers and small-time operators,” Macailao stressed.

The labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) to which NCTU and APL is affiliated commented that higher fines will not force “discipline” but will in fact “encourage further corruption” as “added penalties mean added kotong or bribes” particularly to traffic enforcers, whether staff of certain LGUs (local government units) or staff of the nationwide task force composed of LTFRB and LTO enforcers.

The DTOC-LTFRB-LTO JAO took effect last June 19 after the Supreme Court failed to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed against it by several transport groups last June 10, when the high court merely ordered the three agencies “to comment within 10 days from notice (of the complaint).”

Short of a general strike, a “transport holiday” was also held by different transport groups last June 19 in protest of JAO 2014-01. Thousands of commuters were stranded.

Under the JAO colorum bus operators will be fined P1 million; truck and van operators, P200,000; sedan operators, P120,000; jeepney owners, P50,000; and motorcycle operators, P6,000. It likewise covers “other PUV-related violations like refusal to convey passengers to their destination; overcharging; employing reckless, insolent, discourteous or arrogant drivers; operating PUVs with defective parts; using tampered taximeters; and trip cutting. Each violation has corresponding fines and penalties as specified in the order.”

The JAO specifies that LTFRB will create a nationwide task force composed of LTFRB and LTO enforcers who are the only ones authorized to apprehend violators of said offenses, thus excluding any other LGU traffic personnel or even enforcers of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

NCTU-APL-SENTRO is also a member of the global union International Federation of Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).