Monday, December 21, 2015

Towing illegally parked vehicles

Towing illegally parked vehicles

Last December 2, after coming out of the Meralco office on Commonwealth Avenue to pay my electric bill, I saw my car being clamped and lifted by a tow vehicle identified as belonging to Sun Valley Towing Services. I approached the one representing the towing company, and readily he identified himself as Rolando Loreto, Jr. I requested him to release the clamp. I explained that I parked my car along side the road because the parking space of Meralco was full.

At first, Loreto said he was from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, but when I insisted he is not because of his uniform, he changed his answer saying his company is accredited by the MMDA to tow illegally parked vehicles. I pleaded with him not to tow my vehicle, and if I incurred a violation, I would pay the fine. The fellow was adamant in bringing my car to their impounding area, and pointed to the policemen sitting inside a police car parked at a safe distance.

They towed my car to their impounding center in Pasig City. There I was referred to the owner-manager of the Sun Valley Towing Service identified as Rodel Trinidad. After some argument, Trinidad and Loreto brashly told me I had to pay P4,500. The towing fee is P1,500, and an additional P200 per kilometer from the place where the vehicle was towed to the impounding area, which Loreto claimed was located in Batasan to purposely increase the rate, he arbitrarily estimated to be about 19 kilometers. Trinidad insisted on the amount, and said that it did not include the P500 fine which I would have to pay to MMDA inside the impounding area. In other words, everything must be paid right then and there to secure the release of my car.

I am writing this to inquire whether there is merit to MMDA Resolution No. 02-33, Series of 2002, Memorandum Circular No. 09 allegedly superseded by MMDA Resolution No. 10-22 and 10-29, Series 2010. When this guy named Loreto insisted on towing my vehicle even when I was willing to pay the fine, I could sense the towing company was not interested in enforcing the smooth flow of traffic. The guy was more interested in making money because the P500 fine would go to the MMDA.

The problem is, when a vehicle is towed in front and against the will of the owner, could the hapless victim not say an act of carnapping was committed against him by the towing company? Did they not violate Republic Act No. 6539, or the Anti-carnapping Law, as amended? There was a clear intent to gain on the part of Rolando Loreto, Jr. and the towing company because the minimum towing fee of P1,500 and the P200 per kilometer additional charge does not constitute a fine. Only government agencies can impose a fine based on a legitimate law. The private towing company was bent on grabbing my car, having an eye on the profit they would gain from towing illegally parked vehicles against the will of the owner.

The Gestapo-like enforcement of that stupid resolution authorizing the towing and impounding of vehicles that violate traffic rules and regulations is patently contrary to the very spirit of the law. More so if the violator is willing to pay the fine right on the spot. In civilized countries, towing is only allowed if they cause traffic due to engine trouble, or that there was an accident that resulted in a traffic jam. But when private towing companies, even if accredited, clamp illegally parked vehicles against the will of the owners or refuse to accept the payment of fine, that amounts to carnapping. Towing companies are no longer interested in the fine because that will go to the MMDA, but was goaded by the desire to gain profit, an amount more than five times the amount that would go to the government.

After the vehicle was robbed from the owners against their will, the owners are compelled to pay the terms imposed to secure their vehicles’ release, which act amounts to demanding a ransom. When my vehicle was towed from Quezon City to Pasig City, and was charged an additional P200 per kilometer (although it was reduced to P3000 after pleading that I did not have that amount), it became clear I was a victim of carnapping committed right under my very nose by “carnappers” escorted by members of the PNP, and now being required to ransom my car from carnappers styling themselves as a towing company.

Now my question is, what if these towing companies tow the victim’s car to Bulacan or Laguna, and demand P25,000 “towing fee” based on their arbitrary per-kilometer rate provided in that stupid resolution issued by a moronic chairman, not even elected by the people, and enforced by greedy towing companies. Could their act not be classified as robbery? Will the Supreme Court tolerate the continued enforcement of a stupid and questionable resolution that palpably violates a national law legislated by Congress all in the guise of wanting to impose his deranged way of imposing discipline?

To make myself clear, that resolution issued by the MMDA is reflective of stupidity and ignorance. For Illegally Parked Vehicles, 6.2.1 provides, to quote: “Attended illegally parked vehicles shall not be towed, but the owner shall be immediately issued TVR.” Item 6.6 of the same Section provide to quote: “Illegally parked vehicles that are already clamped to the tow truck shall not be subject to intercession by the owner of the vehicle or by the representative of the company’s two truck.” The question is, what if the clamped vehicle is still there, and the owner arrives and offers to pay the fine? Would the offer to pay the fine not prevail over the insistence of a profit-hungry towing company? Are not the two provisions contradictory?

The stupid resolution did not even consider that when the chairman inserted that provision, he in fact favored the desire of the greedy towing company than in doing a public service which is his first and foremost duty. He committed graft by his issuance of an unjust resolution, which reason why it is not even allowed by some mayors in their jurisdiction. That all the more makes the forcible towing of illegally parked vehicles illegal for if it was not allowed to be enforced in other cites in which the MMDA has jurisdiction, then why enforce that in Quezon City whose local officials are more interested in making money?

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