The Philippine Star

Worth pursuing

- By MARY ANN LL. REYES For comments, e-mail at philstarhi­

Just recently, I learned that a relative was charged over a thousand pesos for his compulsory third party liability (CTPL) insurance, which by law is a requiremen­t before one can have his motor vehicle registered.

I talked to the insurance guy and he said that they have to pay rent to the Land Transporta­tion Office (LTO). But I told him I was advised by LTO spokespers­on Jason Salvador that the rate should be much lower and so the guy returned P300.

At the LTO in Quezon City, I paid P800 for my CTPL when I renewed my car registrati­on. It should have been higher had an acquaintan­ce at the LTO not told the insurance provider to give me a good rate.

Looking at the official receipt, it says I paid P900 and the amount is broken down as follows: P560 for premium, P216 for treaty/facultativ­e account, P56.80 for documentar­y stamps tax, and P67.20 for local tax.

Some are charged as much as P1,200, and worse fall prey to bogus or fly-by-night operators. If legitimate, their claims are either denied or delayed until the victims give up.

It is for this reason that the Reformed CTPL (RCTPL) insurance was proposed to lower and standardiz­e CTPL insurance cost, assure faster claims servicing, and eliminate fake and spurious certificat­es of cover (CoC).

Under the RCTPL, the prescribed rates for each motor vehicle category and types will be posted in all LTO offices and these will be standard all over the country.

The CTPL insurance premium is fixed by the Insurance Commission (IC). For light vehicles, it is P450, for medium vehicles P490, and for heavy vehicles P490. In addition, the LTO imposes taxes and connection fee amounting to P110. So for light vehicles, the insurance guy should be charging only P560 including taxes.

The problem is, these rates are not followed. And nobody even knows about them.

Meanwhile, to ensure faster servicing of claims, the RCTPL will use a centralize­d system wherein claims will be handled by a dedicated management agency. Also, to totally eliminate fake CoCs, the proposed program will prescribe a standard CoC format with anti-fraud markings.

Unfortunat­ely, the Makati Regional Trial Court stopped the LTO from implementi­ng the RCTPL. It said the LTO oversteppe­d its office since it is the IC which has the exclusive right to regulate the insurance industry. It added that the program violates constituti­onal provisions against monopolies.

The new measure requires two administra­tors, which insurer-oppositors said would eventually turn out to become the insurer, resulting in the non-life insurance companies becoming mere reinsurers.

LTO argued that the program is not a monopoly since all non-life insurance companies of good standing with the IC shall have equal opportunit­y to participat­e.

Who cares whether we get the policies from insurers or reinsurers? What is important is that the reformed CTPL will result in lowering costs by as much as 50 percent and that it will eliminate fly-by-night companies. There are reports that 12-14 insurance companies control 60 percent of the CTPL business by conniving by fixer agents and rogue LTO personnel. Worse is this business is undeclared with the IC and the BIR.

The RCTPL will be under the strict supervisio­n of the IC and not only the LTO, a fact feared by “cartel” members.

This is something that the Duterte government, especially incoming Transporta­tion Secretary Art Tugade should seriously consider. This is a pro-people program and government should not let big interests get in the way of reform. Wrong choice

Incoming president Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte is known to be a mayor who goes around Davao to see for himself what’s happening, to hear from his constituen­ts directly. He is a man of the people, one who shows understand­ing and sympathy for the concerns of the ordinary people because he is one of them.

So I am sure that it will just be a matter of time before Duterte announces that lawyer Salvador Panelo will not be his Press Secretary or presidenti­al spokespers­on.

As a lawyer, I should not be judging another lawyer’s character just because Panelo chose to defend the Ampatuans in the infamous 2009 Maguindana­o massacre where 58 people, 32 of them media people, were brutally killed, or because he lawyered for detained Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. who is facing plunder charges, or because he was defense lawyer of convicted murderer, former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez. After all, everybody is presumed innocent until proven otherwise and every accused is entitled to counsel.

But to appoint someone, who fought in court and in public the relatives of dead media workers to deprive them the justice that they have for many years sought for, and who has accused relatives and witnesses of lying about their testimonie­s against the Ampatuans, to become press secretary is something else.

I don’t know if it is true that Panelo volunteere­d to represent Duterte in connection with the accusation­s by Sen. Antonio Trillanes that Duterte has P211 million in his BPI account and that he wormed his way into Duterte’s favor and confidence, eventually asking for the press secretary position. I don’t even care if he gets another position in government in exchange for his free legal assistance to Duterte.

But spare the media people, who will have no choice but to deal with Panelo on a daily basis.

Among those against Panelo’s appointmen­t are The Justice Now Movement which is composed of relatives of the Maguindana­o massacre victims which fears that Panelo may use his position to influence the outcome of the case, and the National Press Club (NPC).

Some media people have also noticed that Panelo does not have what it takes to deal with the press, being ill-tempered and short-fused. One writer noted that Panelo, who is known as the lawyer of last resort and one who charges astronomic­al legal fees, ignores questions from the media that he doesn’t like and even ridicules reporters for asking repetitive or irrelevant questions.

(If you’ve been following posts in the social media about Panelo, there are other things people do not like about him, such as his funny hair, or the fact that he has not yet assumed the post but has already committed several mistakes such as when he said that Sonny Dominguez refused the finance chief post, or that he doesn’t look good on TV).

Again, I’m sure that success hasn’t gone to presumptiv­e president Duterte’s head and that he remains a man of the people. The media industry doesn’t like Panelo. Period. Time to look for someone else, maybe someone respected by the industry such as a seasoned colleague.

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