MANILA - The Land Transportation Office clarified Wednesday its operation targeting unauthorized modifications on 4X4 vehicles including oversized tires and rims.
Speaking to radio DZMM, LTO chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante said the agency is making sure that 4x4 vehicles are using accessories that may alter safety standards of the vehicles.
"Ang ipinagbabawal unauthorized modification halimbawa yung oversized tires, rims...Para payagan 'yan dapat mag-present sila ng (road safety) certification from the maker na hindi naa-alter ang safety standard," he said.
(What's not allowed is the unauthorized modification like oversized tires, rims. They need to present a certification from the maker that modifications won't alter the safety standard of the vehicle.)
He added that the safety certification must come from the original manufacturer, allowing the specific modification.
"Halimbawa, 'yung gulong 'di tugma, 'di tolerable within the specification ng sasakyan. Maaaring mag cause ito ng accident kung maging out of control," he said.
(For example, tires that are not within the specification of the vehicle may cause accident.)
For his part, Ramon Toong, president of the National Association of Filipino Off Roaders, said it is difficult to get safety certifications from vehicle manufacturers since they only sell stock vehicles.
"Just look at the condition of our roads. You cannot blame if people buy 4x4 vehicles and then modify it," he said in a separate radio DZMM.
Toong noted Philippine off-roaders only use modifications such as lift kits that are already in use by other countries. Most off-roaders and 4x4 modders are avid researchers, he said, "because their own lives depend on the safety of the vehicles."
In his interview, Galvante said the LTO issued Department Order No. 2010-32 dated 08 September 2010 or the Harmonization of Motor Vehicle (MV) Classifications of LTO and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which is aligned with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE), the standard followed by other ASEAN countries.
Section 5, Number 5.2 of the Order states: “The modifications involving safety and environment shall not be allowed, such as the following: Axle modification; Chassis modification; Extended chassis/body; Additional siding of dump trucks; Extended overhang; Change of rim size; Modification of handle bar and muffler; and Reconfiguration of body dimension and design.”
"Kaya nga tinawag na off-road 'yan, ibig sabihin hindi puwedeng gamitin pang araw-araw sa regular na lansangan natin (The reason why it's called off-road is because you can't use it for city streets every day)," he said.
Modded vehicles that are considered unsafe may be impounded, he said.
On the other hand, enhancements to features and performance such as interior and exterior trimmings are allowed, for as long as the existing design of the vehicle is not compromised.
WHAT ABOUT JEEPNEYS?
The LTO chief cried foul over allegations that it is ignoring other violators such as jeepneys using recapped tires and just focusing its resources on apprehending owners of modified vehicles.
"Meron kaming ginagawang operasyon. Maaaring kulang kami sa tao, pero 'yung sinasabing ini-ignore 'yan blatantly I cannot accept that," he said.
(We are doing an operation. We may be lacking in manpower but to say that we are blatantly ignoring that, I cannot accept that.)
He stressed that only one modified vehicle has been impounded in the most recent operation in North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) because it is not currently registered.
The off-roading community has been alarmed over the alleged LTO crackdown on modified 4X4 vehicles and off-roaders. Some argued that LTO must see the purpose of modified vehicles particularly in rescue operations during flooding.
Toong said that instead of targeting 4X4 modders, the LTO should put up an institution with set guidelines where off-roaders can certify their vehicles as safe and roadworthy.
Most rescue vehicles used for disasters such as floods are modded 4X4s, he said.
"Most off-roaders are willing to comply with whatever LTO will give them pero huwag naman 'yung ganito kaagad, huhulihin. Tapos tatanungin mo 'yung manghuhuli, hindi nila alam yung ini-implement (but not like this that you will apprehend immediately. And then when you ask the enforcer, they don't know what they are implementing)," he said.
He added: "What is distressing about this is that we are the only segment in the motoring industry that can give back to the community through our operations such as medical missions, relief missions, rescue. We are the only segment that can do that with our vehicles and now we are the targets."
"The streets of Metro Manila are actually off-road. Ang daming lubak-lubak, I'm sorry to say this."