As the no-contact traffic rules violation citation project rolls out in the National Capital Region (NCR), Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto called for the plowing back of the registration fees paid by 2.2 million NCR vehicle owners to road safety and discipline programs.
“If, for example, one of the violations that will now be captured by cameras are vehicles encroaching on pedestrian crossings, then perhaps we should ask government to improve road surface markings,” Recto said.
Recto said ridding NCR of “confusing road signs” is among the projects that can be funded by the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC), the biggest item in the vehicle registration fee.
“Putting up more streetlights, for the safety of both motorists and pedestrians, and for the cameras to clearly capture traffic violations, should also be funded out of MVUC collections,” Recto said.
MVUC collections are projected to reach P14.5 billion this year, up from last year’s target of close to P13 billion.
Even though one in every four vehicles in the country today run in Metro Manila’s congested streets, the agency managing traffic in the sprawling metropolis – the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) – is not a direct recipient of MVUC expenditures.
Under the law imposing the MVUC, the bulk of the collections is funnelled to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). A far second is the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
MVUC collections are placed in four special accounts in the National Treasury. These are: Special Road Support Fund (80%), Special Local Road Fund (5%), Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund (7.5%) and Special Road Safety Fund (7.5 %).
A board composed of Cabinet secretaries determine where the funds will be spent. The funds in turn are off-budget, meaning they are not subject to annual congressional appropriations, and as a lump-sum, devoid of spending details.
Recto said MMDA should be included as a direct recipient and major implementer of MVUC funded-projects.
“Legislation is the best way to do this. Or in the meantime, see if this can be done administratively by making MMDA a sub-recipient of funds coursed through DPWH or DOTC,” Recto said.
One compelling argument for this, Recto stressed, is the rise in the number of traffic accidents in Metro Manila, which, Recto said, MVUC-funded road safety measures can abate.
The MMDA last week said it has recorded 95,615 traffic accidents in Metro Manila in 2015. “That’s an alarming 262 incidents a day, or one every five and a half minutes,” Recto said.
By MMDA’s count, accidents killed 519 persons, injured 17,103 others and caused 77,993 cases of damage to property. “On injuries, that’s 342 buses filled with accident victims.”
“If these statistics make NCR streets a disaster area, then we should treat MVUC as a calamity fund. One that should be given to MMDA,” Recto said.
The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the MVUC Law said the funds can also be used not only for “traffic signals, markings, lanes, traffic channelization techniques, traffic calming measures”, but also for “road safety education and training programs.”
This, according to Recto, can be invoked by authorities in buying “ambulances which can be stationed in traffic-prone highways, patrol cars which can run after overspeeding vehicles at night, and tow trucks to clear roads of stalled vehicles,” he said.
“Actually, all collections from road user’s tax must be spent for road safety. That’s the end objective.”