AFTER having been stalled by public protest and bureaucratic dysfunction for nearly 15 years, the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) has finally been rolled out by the Department of Transportation (DoTr).

To those who continue to loudly complain that the MVIS imposes excessive costs on vehicle owners or “threatens the livelihood” of public utility vehicle and jeepney operators, let us say this in the nicest possible way: Suck it up, follow the rules and get in line — for your own good and the good of everyone with whom you share the road.

The MVIS was first proposed during the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but for various reasons — chief among them the intense resistance of public transport operators — never got off the ground, beyond the establishment of a network of emissions testing centers, a system that was hardly consistent in its coverage or enforcement. The administration of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd got as far as purchasing some testing equipment, but it was never deployed. Now thoroughly outdated, the unused equipment is reportedly still sitting in its delivery crates in a government warehouse.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte, the DoTr initially hoped to roll out the MVIS in 2017, but also had to work through a number of obstacles. Unlike its predecessors in the previous administrations, however, the current DoTr under Secretary Arthur Tugade and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) have at least kept up the effort and launched enough private motor vehicle inspection centers (PVMIC) that enforcement of the MVIS could begin in earnest this month. According to information from the DoTr, there will eventually be a network of 138 PVMIC across the entire country.

Under the MVIS, all vehicles will have to undergo a safety inspection annually, which includes computerized emissions testing. New vehicles will undergo their first inspection at three years, and then every year after that. The cost for the inspection is P1,600, and is required for the renewal of the vehicle’s registration with the LTO. Vehicles that do not pass inspection will have their front license plates confiscated, which will only be returned once any defects are corrected and the vehicle passes a second inspection.

The inspection covers 70 items and is very similar to safety inspections carried out in other countries where the public considers them an ordinary and noncontroversial aspect of vehicle ownership. Most of the inspection items are matters of common sense, making sure that parts of the vehicle are not excessively worn or damaged, such as brakes, tires, suspension and steering parts, lights, window glass and mirrors, instruments, safety equipment such as seatbelts and airbags, and so on. To prevent cheating on the inspection, the specialized equipment required for some testing, such as emissions, brakes, and the vehicle’s suspension, is connected directly to a centralized LTO database and transmits the test results in real time.

Statistics show that an average of about 1,000 people per month die in vehicular accidents here in the Philippines, and many of those deaths are caused by safety deficiencies. Initial results of MVIS testing suggest just how shockingly high the number of unsafe vehicles on our roads may be. In just one week, according to the LTO, more than 50 percent of the vehicles inspected failed to pass. How many of those defects may have led to an accident later on if they had not been detected cannot be known, of course, but one undeniable fact is that having been detected by the MVIS, none of them will.

With that in mind, it is unconscionable for anyone to argue that risks to other persons and property should be accepted to give some vehicle owners exemptions from MVIS compliance for purely individual financial considerations. Whatever costs imposed by the MVIS will be returned to the nation as a whole many times over in people saved from injury or death, vehicles and property saved from damage or destruction, and on the level of the individual vehicle owner, lower costs on maintenance and insurance.

We applaud the DoTr and LTO for finally bringing the MVIS to life and hope that the effort exerted to implement it will be continued with firm and consistent enforcement of it.

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