OSG: NCAP fines within limit set by Local Government Code

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday defended the fines collected under the controversial no contact apprehension policy (NCAP) from claims they are "oppressive."

During Tuesday's oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Guevarra said the penalties are within the limit set by the Local Government Code.

"Because there is an expressed provision there that local government units are authorized to impose fines and other penalties, in the case of cities, in an amount not exceeding ₱5,000," he said.

The solicitor general also said the fines are not meant to raise revenues.

"It's not a tax, it's a regulatory fee pursuant to the police power delegated to the local government units. Not taxation, but police powers," Guevarra pointed out.

"All these regulatory fees go to a certain trust fund and according to the Local Government Code, all money going to these trust funds may only be spent for specific purpose," he added.

Guevarra explained that the trust fund is also used to pay private service providers tapped by LGUs implementing NCAP.

Lawyer Junman Paa and four transport groups ran to the Supreme Court to challenge NCAP, which was being implemented in the City of Manila, Quezon City, Valenzuela, Parañaque, and Muntinlupa, until the high court issued a temporary restraining order on Aug. 30 last year.

The petitioners said the fines - ranging from ₱2,000 to ₱5,000 - are too much for drivers of public utility vehicles.

Paa said he himself had been fined more than ₱20,000 for supposed traffic violations despite not receiving notices.

"I do not agree with the stand of the Solicitor General, with due respect, your honor. It's not more on the regulatory fees, because in the first place the fine for traffic violation appears to be oppressive, it's discriminatory also," he said during the oral arguments.