EDSA-Kamuning (File photo)

MANILA – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Wednesday said it would field more traffic personnel along major roads and intensify physical apprehension of erring drivers amid a Supreme Court temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of the no contact apprehension policy (NCAP).

In a press conference, MMDA acting spokesperson and head of Legal Service Cris Saruca Jr. said on-the-ground apprehension would continue.

Deployment of traffic enforcers would be adjusted to cover the areas where NCAP cameras are located, including EDSA, Commonwealth, Quezon Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, C-5, and Macapagal Boulevard.

“Rest assured that the MMDA will do its best to carry out our traffic management mandate by apprehending physically and directing traffic physically, as we await final resolution on the NCAP case,” he said.

He added that the MMDA would consult the Office of the Solicitor General (SolGen) to seek advice on its next action and whether it would have to intervene on the pending petition as it is not a respondent to the case.

The TRO that the high court issued stops the implementation of NCAP-related programs and ordinances and any apprehensions through the said policy and ordinances "shall be prohibited until further orders from the Court."

The order also stops the LTO "and all parties acting on its behalf from giving out motorist information to all government units, cities, and municipalities enforcing NCAP programs and ordinances."

Meanwhile, collection of NCAP fines would also stop for those who have been apprehended by the policy after the issuance of the TRO yesterday.

Apprehension that happened prior to the TRO is still subject to corresponding penalties.

“The Supreme Court said that the TRO is effective immediately and shall continue until further notice, hence, it is prospective, and those who have been caught through the policy prior to the issuance of the TRO still have to pay their fines,” Saruca said.

The MMDA registered an estimated 107,000 NCAP apprehensions from January until Aug. 24.

Common violations include disregarding traffic signs, number coding scheme and no loading and unloading.

Even without the NCAP, Saruca hoped that discipline among motorists would be maintained to ensure smooth traffic flow and for the safety of all road users.

SolGen in talks with LTO

The OSG said it is in talks with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to craft the government’s formal position on the NCAP.

“Wala pang any communication from the MMDA or LGUs concerned. Pag-uusapan pa namin sa OSG kung ano ang dapat gawin. We filed our comment on the petition yesterday on behalf of the LTO, but the SC had already issued the TRO,” Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra told reporters.

“The respondent LGUs are supposed to be represented by their respective legal officers in this case, as it is their NCAP ordinances that are in question,” he added.

Transport groups Kilusan sa Pagbabago ng Industriya ng Transportasyon Inc., Pasang Masda, Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations filed the petition before the court earlier this month.

Named in the suit were Manila, Quezon City, Valenzuela, Parañaque City, Muntinlupa City, and LTO.

In the 47-page petition, the groups said the system which uses close-circuit television cameras places motorists “under constant threat of being arbitrarily apprehended remotely and issued notices of violation for alleged traffic offenses committed without any contact whatsoever.”

The cities that have fully implemented NCAP cited decrease in obstructions, choking of traffic from apprehended vehicles, reckless driving, and hazardous motorists’ habits. (With reports from Benjamin Pulta/PNA)