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SC urged to stop radio frequency ID project
In The Press Posted on December 15th, 2009.
MANILA, Philippines - Various groups on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional a government plan to put radio frequency ID tags on all vehicles starting next month.
In a 56-page petition for certiorari and prohibition, the petitioners -- Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño, Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglungsod, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza, and Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) – also asked the Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Land Transportation Office (LTO) officials from enforcing the RFID project starting the first week of January 2010 .
Under the RFID projects, all vehicles would be required to install stickers containing a microchip that stores vehicle information. For a one-time fee of P350, the LTO plans to install the RFID tags on some 4,760,593 vehicles which is expected to raise P1.6 billion in revenues.
The RFID tag, which is intended to last for 10 years, will be procured from Stradcom Corporation.
The petitioners said the project violated the provisions of the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act requiring all government procurements to be done through competitive public bidding. They said the project also does not fall within the exceptions or alternative methods of procurement provided under R.A. 9184.
Under the IT contract, Stradcom will own, operate and maintain all IT facilities while the LTO continues to handle the processing of all transactions.
“The DOTC/LTO and Stradcom alleged that the FRID project is a mere enhancement of the existing LTO IT project with Stradcom. But as was itself admitted by Stradcom, the tags and readers will be sourced out from no less than two suppliers...Thus, it could not be said that the RFID project is included in the LTO IT project,” the petitioners said.
The petitioners noted that under the set-up, Stradcom would merely monitor the project.
“More importantly, since Stradcom will not by itself manufacture the RFID tags and the readers, it is with more reason that there should be competitive public bidding on the procurement thereof. On this regard, petitioners submit that the procurement of the readers and tags should have been subjected to a competitive public bidding,” they added.
The petitioners said the DOTC and LTO failed to get prior approval from the National Economic Development Authority before implementing the project. Under existing NEDA circulars, all government agencies who implement new fees or increase existing fees on the public must seek NEDA approval.
“The act of the DOTC and LTO of approving the RFID project without the required NEDA approval does not only constitute violation of Republic Act 6975 but also of the NEDA circulars. On this respect, the project was undertaken by the DOTC and LTO in grave abuse of their discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Their acts, manifested by the circulars they have issued and the MOA entered into with Stradcom, are therefore void ab initio,” the petitioners said.
as of 12/16/2009 4:04 PM