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27 August 2020

DOTr: Toll expressways must implement cashless transactions for all vehicles not later than Nov. 2

MANILA – To ensure swift transition to cashless transactions on toll expressways, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) reiterated the need for its immediate implementation not later than 02 November 2020.

This follows the release of the Department Order 2020-012, signed on 13 August 2020 by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, directing concerned agencies of the Department, namely the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and Land Transportation Office (LTO), to formulate new processes and procedures to ensure the smooth implementation of cashless transactions on toll expressways.

Pursuant to its function as the implementing authority over limited access facilities, the TRB is directed to promulgate rules and regulations that will require concessionaires and operators to transition to a one hundred percent (100%) electronic toll collection lanes.

The Department Order further states that the TRB shall ensure concessionaires and operators install electronic tags or other cashless systems, such as but not limited to, RFID, Automated Fare Collection System (AFCS), etc. for all motorists and motor vehicles using the toll expressways and transact only thru the cashless mode of payment of toll not later than 02 November 2020.

“Coordination is already ongoing between TRB and our concessionaires and operators. We are also working on the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the new policy to ensure smooth and expedient transition to contactless and cashless transactions. Ginagawa natin ‘yan para walang hawaan [ng COVID-19]. ‘Yan po ang direktiba sa atin ni Secretary Tugade kaya sisiguraduhin po natin na maipatupad ito by November 2.“ TRB Executive Director Abraham Sales said.

Meanwhile, the LTO will be in-charge of studying and exploring ways and means to allow for a full cashless and contactless system along expressways, while the LTFRB will monitor the compliance of all Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) on the mandatory use/installation of electronic tags or use of other cashless systems in their units.

Contactless transactions shall be implemented in the following identified limited access facilities: South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (CAVITEX), North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), South Metro Manila Skyway, Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) ; and all other road networks, including any extension of the existing expressway facilities mentioned, that may be constructed, established and/or operated as expressway toll facilities.

The new policy ensures further protection of the public from the infectious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as it promotes adherence to health protocols such as physical distancing through limiting human intervention, and removing the traffic queues as well as congestion at toll plazas.


25 August 2020

LTO to issue driver’s licenses with 10-year validity by 2021; exclusive to motorists with no traffic violations

QUEZON CITY – Starting October 2021, drivers with clean records with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will be able to enjoy “premium” license cards, as the agency will roll out new licenses with ten-year validity.

In a press briefing Thursday, 19 August 2020, LTO Chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante said that the issuance of licenses with 10-year validity is in line with the implementation of a provision in Republic Act No. 10930, signed into law in 2017.

The law states, “Except for student permits, all drivers’ licenses shall be valid for five years reckoned from the birthdate of the licensee, unless sooner revoked or suspended: Provided, however, that subject to Section 26 hereof, any holder of a professional or nonprofessional driver’s license who has not committed any violation of Republic Act No. 4136 and other traffic laws, rules and regulations during the five-year period shall be entitled to a renewal of such license for 10 years, subject to the restrictions as may be imposed by the LTO.”

With this, the LTO devised a new point system, wherein drivers will accumulate demerit points for each violation committed and earn incentives for drivers with good standing.

Under the point system, a motorist accumulates “demerit points” depending on the gravity of his or her violation. These violations are classified according to their corresponding categories: grave for five points; less grave for three points; and light for one point.

In the said press briefing, Asec. Galvante emphasized that the examples of grave violations are driving a motor vehicle in the commission of crime, operating a colorum vehicle, and driving under the influence. However, the LTO chief clarified that less grave or light violations may also be considered as grave, if violations are committed repeatedly.

Further, the driver’s license of an erring motorist may be suspended if he/she will accumulate 10 demerit points, while earning 40 points will result in its revocation.

Violations committed by motorists will be uploaded or recorded in the LTO’s system. Asec. Galvante shared that the license holder will also be notified of the committed violations, which will be the basis of issuing a new license upon renewal.

On the other hand, Asec. Galvante emphasized that the 10-year validity of driver’s licenses aims to incentivize those who strictly obey traffic laws.

“Hopefully, with this measure mababawas-bawasan ang road crashes, road or traffic incidents na nagka-cause ng injuries and even pagkamatay,” Asec. Galvante said.

“Not all license holders are entitled to this privilege. For those who have clean records, you may enjoy not coming back for renewal not only for five years, but ten years. That is if you are not delinquent,” the LTO chief added.


22 August 2020

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, DOTr activates 3 ports as crew change hubs in one month: Subic Bay Freeport Zone starts as hub today, August 22

MANILA — Facing restrictions imposed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the country’s maritime industry, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), through its Maritime Sector, is now activating crew change hubs to address the global need for fresh crew of ships operated by around 1.5 million seafarers, 378,000 or 25% of which are Filipinos.

“This month alone, the DOTr maritime sector was able to open and activate three crew change hubs in the country. These are located at the Port of Manila, Port of Capinpin in Bataan, and today, at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. It is my hope for the Philippines to become a major international hub for crew change,” Secretary Tugade said.

On August 19, Port Capinpin in Bataan joined the Port of Manila as a crew change hub. Other ports for activation include Batangas, Davao, and Cebu.

Crew change is essential to ensure seafarers’ safety, health, welfare and employment as they can only serve on board a vessel without leave up to a maximum of 11 months based on International Labour Organization (ILO) 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

The activation of crew change hubs will primarily benefit seafarers, recognized globally as key workers, who are stranded onboard ships with expired contracts due to travel restrictions aimed to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

“To guarantee that the health and safety of seafarers and the public are protected while we work on this endeavor, the DOTr and its attached agencies are activating hubs in close coordination with various government agencies and units involved in crew changes,” OIC-Assistant Secretary for Maritime Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson, Jr. said.

Today, August 22, the DOTr, through the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) also activated the Subic Bay Freeport Zone as a crew change hub. This is made possible after series of consultations with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the local government of Zambales, Bataan and Olongapo City.

OTS Administrator and Head of the One-Stop Shop (OSS) Undersecretary Raul Del Rosario revealed that under IATF Resolution No. 53, Subic Bay is actually identified as one of the crew change hubs in the country.

“The strategic location of Subic Bay makes it ideal for crew changes due to its proximity to countries with high trading activities. The maritime industry in the area is also actively performing, with excellent port facilities and safe harbor to serve the needs of internationally-flagged vessels. Basically, Subic Bay can offer everything shipping principals are looking for in a crew change hub. We have also established the One-Stop Shop (OSS) to ensure that the health requirements are met,” Usec Del Rosario noted.

For his part, PCG Commandant Admiral George Ursabia Jr. said that the crew change hub abides by the established health and quarantine protocols of the Department of Health (DOH).

“The DOTr Team, composed of the Central Office, OTS, PCG and MARINA, has also been meeting with the DOH, Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and SBMA to ensure that the hub will conform with all requirements, especially health and safety protocols including quarantine procedures. To ensure the smooth flow of operations, we have conducted a dry run which was witnessed by the public,” PCG Admiral Ursabia Jr. said.

Meanwhile, MARINA Administrator Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad underscored the need to establish crew change hubs in the country especially now that there is a pandemic.

“This has been a significant cause of worry, as seafarers of all nationalities are already experiencing immense physical and mental fatigue brought on by overstaying onboard ships at sea. If this continues, delivery of essential cargo will be affected. Having crew change hubs in the country will solve this problem and give our seafarers the advantage of swift processing due to the established protocols,” Administrator Empedrad highlighted.

Aside from facilitating the transfer of stranded marine personnel off their vessels because of the pandemic, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago likewise stated that crew change hubs in the country are also expected to generate economic activities and revenues in the areas where they are located, with the collection of port dues and charges from ship dockage or anchorage.

“By becoming a crew change capital of the world, we would not only prime up our seafaring and maritime industry. We also expect to boost our hospitality industry,” GM Santiago emphasized.

In the last four months, a total of 734 ships docked or anchored in the Port of Manila for the purposes of crew change. A total of 34,000 seafarers were served, wherein 28,000 seafarers disembarked while 5,800 joined the ships.

For ship turnaround, cargo ships usually stay for about 6 to 12 hours while cruise ships stay for a week up to a month if they serve as quarantine facilities.

“We can look forward to the same maritime traffic in other hubs as more foreign shipping principals are expected to patronize our ports for crew change. Aside from opening our ports for crew change, the Joint Circular for Green Lane for seafarers provide speedy movements of seafarers in our country. Three major shipping companies of Japan already bannered our green lane program in the conduct of crew change. We expect other flags to follow their lead,” GM Santiago added.