Petitioners vs NCAP, respondents face off in first SC oral arguments

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — Petitioners against the no contact apprehension policy (NCAP) faced off with respondents at the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday.

It was the first day of oral arguments on three petitions challenging NCAP, which is being implemented by some cities in Metro Manila.

The petitioners - mostly transport groups - argued that the policy discriminates against the poor. They said the penalty, which ranges from ₱2,000 to ₱5,000, is too expensive for drivers of public utility vehicles.

They also claimed that registered owners accused of committing traffic offenses are not given due process.

"NCAP also imposes unreasonable conditions such as undue presumption of liability against registered owners, transfer and processing of sensitive information of registered owner thus violating their data privacy rights, the payments of fines and penalties as precedent for motor vehicle registration renewal," said Atty. Greg Pua, counsel for the transport groups.

"The implementation of NCAP violates the due process right of registered owners of vehicles," he added.

The high court earlier issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and five local governments in Metro Manila enforcing NCAP.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra - who argued on behalf of the respondents - called for the lifting the TRO. He stressed that owning a vehicle is a privilege that comes with duties and responsibilities.

"Upon this important consideration is also founded extensive judicial recognition that the use of vehicles — and consequently, of public thoroughfares — is nothing more than a privilege," he said.

"More importantly, such privilege is granted under the strict condition that its grantee or license holder will continuously comply not only with existing but also with any new and additional burdens imposed by national laws and local government ordinances," Guevarra added.

Guevarra also contended that the petitioners do not have locus standi, or the right to appear before the Supreme Court — which is the court of last resort.

"Locus standi demands that those who petition relief from this Court establish not only a right but also a clear actual or threatened injury arising from the violation of such right," Guevarra said.

Named respondents in one of the petitions are the local governments of Manila, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Quezon City, and Valenzuela. Another set of respondents are the LTO and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

Oral arguments will resume on Jan. 24, 2023. The SC has ordered the petitioners to submit additional evidence.