October 4, 2022

The Baguio City Council invited the owners of emission testing centers operating in the city and the chief of the Land Transportation Office-Baguio District Office to its session last Sept. 5 following multiple complaints of motorists regarding the long queues in emission testing and vehicle registration.

Ma. Lourdes Moreno, owner of Ga-laxy Emission Testing Center, said the long queues were the daily quota imposed by the Department of Transportation. 

In DOTR Order 2012-10, private emission testing centers (PETCs) are restricted to conduct a maximum of 32 tests per day for diesel-type vehicles based on a 15-minute test duration and 48 tests per day for gasoline-type vehicles based on a 10-minute test duration.

LTO-Baguio Head Gregorio Retuta said he is in favor of recommending shorter test durations to increase the number of motorists these PETCs can accommodate per day but with close supervision to prevent dishonest emission testing practices.

An emission test is one of the requirements before registering a vehicle with the LTO. It gauges the car’s emissions and tracks the pollutants it releases.

Another cause of long queues is the apparent lack of PETCs in Baguio and Benguet.

At present, there are only three PETCs in Baguio, two in La Trinidad and one in Tuding, Itogon, both in Benguet.

Moreno said these testing centers cannot accommodate the number of motorists who show up every day for their emission testing.

The councilors said there should be more PETCs in Baguio and Benguet.

However, Retuta said there is a moratorium on the acceptance of applications for new authorization of PETCs.

Of the six PETCs, three are not operating as they are still in the process of renewing their license to operate.

One of these PETCs whose applications for renewal have been denied is A-luz Vehicle Smoke Testing Center. Owners of A-luz said their license to operate was not renewed despite compliance with the requirements but they filed for a motion for reconsideration and are awaiting decision of the LTO central office.

Asked what action the city council may take to help address the lack of PETCs in the city and in the province, Retuta said the body may endorse to the central office the applications for renewal of compliant testing centers that are no longer operational. 

In the meantime, the city council advised the existing PETCs to improve their queuing system.

As to the LTO registration process, Retuta said the slowdown in the registration process is due to the adoption of Land Transportation Management System (LTMS) which requires more steps compared to the old system or the Stradcom System. He said they also they also experience downtime with the new system.

Number of personnel at the registration division had also been reduced from 11 to only six. He said the staff who start work at 7 a.m. and end as late as 8 p.m. are burdened with the workload.

The city council committee on laws, human rights, and justice will study the matter for possible legislative action or recommendation. – Jordan G. Habbiling