Torres goes hard against erring PETCs

IT’S no wonder that the air pollution level in Metro Manila has been categorized as one of the worst in the world.

An editorial of a widely read national paper has correctly pointed out that one of the primary reasons for the worsening air pollution in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas in the country, is the proliferation of smoke emission testing centers that issue dubious or fake emission test results.

In response, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Virginia P. Torres has promised to launch a renewed and vigorous crackdown against these erring private emission testing centers (PETCs) that are engaged in the issuance of spurious emission test certificates.

It is worth noting however that in the course of the investigation, the LTO has discovered that majority of PETCs that are tagged in the illegal activity are actually using Stradcom ‘s Direct Connect facility.

Stradcom’s PETC direct connect facility was supposed to be on a functional testing only but for some unknown reasons, it has been allowed to continue to operate purportedly to eliminate the rampant non-appearance cases.

But it appears that the purpose was defeated because majority of those PETCs that are undergoing investigation and are given show cause orders are actually connected with Stradcom direct connect facility.

Stradcom being the owner/designer of the LTO IT system can easily enhance the technical capability of its program to prevent the proliferation of non- appearance testing, instead it has chosen to be complacent, thus some unscrupulous PETC operators that are attached to it have taken advantage by engaging in the issuance  of fake emission results.

Under the Clean Air Act, all vehicles that are due for registration with the LTO are required to undergo and pass legitimate smoke emission tests conducted by LTO accredited PETCs before they are allowed to be registered.

The PETC that conducted the test is required to ensure that the data is correct and that the subject vehicle had undergone actual testing but it appears that Stradcom’s entry to the picture has done more harm than good judging from the unprecedented increase of non-appearance cases.

A raid recently conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on a safe house allegedly being used by a gang that is engaged in the issuance of fake smoke emission test results, turned out to being operated and maintained by a certain Ed Rivera.

Rivera is the owner of Enviroguard and Smoke in the City emission test centers, which for all intents and purposes are utilizing the Stradcom Direct Connect Facility.

As a result, Torres declared that her office will pursue an in-depth investigation in the light of admission of Stradcom Corporation, that it has ties with the two PETCs that operate the raided safe house.

Torres likewise ordered a thorough review of the performance of all the PETC’s and strengthened the monitoring process by installing viewing facilities that could monitor uploads of data and images in real time.

So far they have already gathered enough evidence of fraudulent activities from various PETC’s since July this year and have already issued show cause orders to 14 PETC’s and has in fact closed down two recently.

There are still more than 40 PETCs throughout the country that are undergoing investigation by the LTO PETC Monitoring Committee.

Torres also revealed that she would be making drastic cuts on the number of PETCs especially since it came to her attention that there are now around 700 wherein the required number should only be 500.

We wish Torres good luck in her campaign because it’s about time that the LTO do something if only to save the air we breathe from the worsening pollution due to erring PETCs. Bobby Ricohermoso

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