Transpo Memos on Stemming the Spread of COVID-19

by Rodel M. Sicapore, FEBRUARY 2021

The COVID 19 pandemic has led to worldwide devastation to our society. The effects on health, education, work, and economy had caused a social disruption that devastated our lives. And we as Toll Operators did not escape from this turmoil. The transportation industry went down drastically during the peak of the pandemic. However, after months of improvement and the vaccine is seen on the horizon, Transportation is going back again as a new normal. Looking at the bright side allows us to innovate and look for an opportunity and challenged ourselves to be better. And so, we push through on the RFID 100% project. 

On May 14, 2020, at the peak of the COVID 19 pandemic, LTFRB releases a Memo Circular No. 2020-20 directing all PUV using Tollways to install RFID tags under the program of the TRB. 

SOURCE: LTFRB FACEBOOK PAGE

Then on May 19, 2020, The Land Transportation Office release an LTO Memo Circular 2020-2185 embodying the guidelines on the enforcement of regulations issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), relative to the operation of land transportation in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ). This is following the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, wherein public transportation may be allowed to operate on a limited scale and reduced capacity in areas under GCQ and by the virtue of the protocols/guidelines for public transport operations set by the DOTr.

Emphasizing on this memo is the Article III Safety Measures of which the guidelines for PUV’s and Private and Government vehicles still need to comply with the basic standard measures of wearing a face mask and implement social distancing by limiting passengers inside the vehicle. Article IV Administrative Sanctions, Ground, and Procedures describe the violations such as:

  • Reckless driving for violation of sanitary measures,
  • Overloading of Passengers for violation of physical distancing, and
  • Driving without Valid License for violation of Authorized Person Outside of Residence (APOR).

Because of the good intention to further protect the public from infectious COVID 19 disease, the Department of Transportation released a DOTr Memorandum Circular 2020-12 signed on August 13, 2020, by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade ordering TRB, to formulate new process, procedures, and regulations requiring the Toll expressways to fully transition to an electronic toll collection. LTO was ordered to explore and study the full cashless and contactless system along the expressway while LTFRB monitor compliance of PUV on the mandatory installation of RFID. 

Then on October 23, 2020, TRB release the Implementing Rules and Regulation of DOTr Memorandum Circular 2020-12 requiring Cashless or Contactless Transaction for all vehicles traveling on toll expressways. The IRR includes the responsibilities of Toll facility operators/concessionaires, a transition to 100% ETC System, Campaign promoting the cashless toll transaction, the RFID installation, load and reloading, Operations and maintenance, and on Rule 3 describing the responsibility of motorist.

And by November 17, 2020, LTO release the LTO Memorandum Circular 2020-2224 titled “Guidelines in the enforcement of department order no. 2020-12 by DOTr“ requiring cashless or contactless transactions for all vehicles traveling on toll expressways. This Memo Circular specifically describes the motorist responsibility on Section 5 whereas installation of RFID and sufficient balance is the responsibility of the driver and owner of the vehicle. While on Section 6 Penalty and other Provision, the violations described as the following:

  1. For driving a motor vehicle and entering a limited-access highway without the required RFID shall be penalized as Disregarding Traffic Signs (DTS) under article I section j.2 of Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2014-01.
  2. For driving and exiting the expressway with insufficient RFID account balance to pay the required toll fee shall be penalized as Obstruction under Article I, section j.35 of JAO 2014-01.
  3. Using fraudulent, tampered, or fake RFID stickers upon entry in expressway shall be penalized as Fraud and Falsities such as the presentation of fake and spurious CPC, OR/CR, plates, stickers, and tags under Article I, section j.40 of JAO 2014-01. 

The memorandum circulars released by the government agencies paved the way for the implementation of 100% RFID to all Toll Expressways targets on the first week of December 2020. However, an unfortunate circumstance came when Valenzuela City raised an issue and temporarily suspend the implementation of the RFID 100% at their city premises that led to a senate hearing. Thus, the implementation was adjusted to a future date. 

For now, we at MPTSouth continue to cooperate with our Stakeholders and Regulators on how we could help to ease the implementation of 100% RFID. As to date, we are 98-99% RFID penetration. But we continue working better to serve our customers.

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About the writer:

Rod M. Sicapore. From the Operations Management Division, heads the CALAX Traffic Operations Department. A former Security Operations Head given his military and security back ground. Started his career at NLEX way back in 2004 and transferred to MPTSouth in 2016. Member of many committees and task force of MPTSouth that supports the company’s goal and initiative. He is into sports, enjoys adventure activity and photography.

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