The City Council recently voted to amend an existing ordinance to reduce fines for motorcycles with noisy exhaust systems or mufflers.
Ordinance No. 819, or the “Muffler Ordinance of Puerto Princesa City”, passed in February 2017, was amended on Wednesday (December 1) by Ordinance No. 241-2021, or the “Exhaust/Muffler Ordinance of 2021” that was authored by Councilor Herbert Dilig.
Under the amended legislation, the fine for the first offense had been lowered to P300, second offense P500, and P1,000 for motor vehicles with damaged or defective exhaust or muffler system.
Motor vehicles without muffler or “open pipe”, with “busal”, with an exhaust or muffler system with exceptionally loud and excessive noise will be fined P500 for first offense; P1,000 for second offense; and P1,500 for the third and final offense and arresto menor or, at the discretion of the court, community service in lieu of imprisonment.
The previous ordinance imposed a P2,500 penalty for the first violation and confiscation of modified muffler; P3,500 fine for the second offense with confiscation of muffler or sound booster, impoundment of the motor vehicle for one month, and suspension of driver’s license for six months; and a P5,000 fine for the third offense with confiscation of modified muffler or sound booster, imprisonment for not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days, and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
In a phone interview with Palawan News on Friday, Dilig said he felt the need to modify the ordinance, noting the desire to “harmonize” it with national law requirements on “excessively noisy muffler” standards for motor vehicles.
“After reviewing the existing ordinance and dahil na rin sa clamor ng mga kababayan nating motorista, I thought that there is really a need to amend o baguhin itong ordinance na ito,” Dilig said in a phone interview.
“Ang existing penalties from P1,500 to P3,000 hanggang P5,000 pa yata. Ginawa natin itong P300 to P1,000 at kung maayos mo ‘yan within 24 hours hindi ma-iimpound ang sasakyan mo,” he said.
The amended ordinance is applicable to all motor vehicles and motorcycles operated in the national, city, or barangay roads, within the territorial jurisdiction of Puerto Princesa City.
According to Dilig, the present muffler rule of 70 decibels is “not practical,” so it was raised to 99 decibels, the same as the national standard.
“Ang punto ko dito ay i-harmonize sa national law itong ordinance na ito kasi under sa existing ordinance ang sound level na tinatakda ay 70 decibels only, which is very very low. Kumbaga, hindi siya practical. Dito sa ordinance na pinasa ko, ginawa ko siyang 99 [decibels] pareho sa tinatakda sa national level,” he explained.
“A local ordinance cannot go against a national issuance,” he added.
The muffler concerns were qualified in the modifications, Dilig said, citing considerations with motorcycle drivers who use modified mufflers as long as the decibel level does not reach 99.
He said if mufflers are defective, owners and drivers should be given time to fix this.
“Dito sa bagong ordinance na inakda natin, we qualified [kung] ano ba ang mga problema ng muffler. Kung defective lang naman, puwede naman bigyan ng pagkakataon na maayos agad. Kahit i-modify mo yung muffler mo, as long as hindi sya sumusobra sa decibels which is 99 ay hindi sya dapat tanggalin,” he said.
Dilig said the old ordinance did not offer a foundation for accurately gauging decibels.
However, it appears that traffic enforcers are required to carry a sound meter in order to measure noise levels.
“Dito sa ordinance, malinaw na ni-re-require na ‘yong mga enforcers natin ay mayroong sound meter o decibel meter. Ito ‘yong equipment na pinapang-test kung maingay ba o kung gaano kaingay ‘yong nilalabas na tunog ng isang sasakyan,” he said.
When asked if sound meters are available, he answered the CTMO has a few, but they are obligated to have them since they have the funds.
“Dapat mayroon. Mayroong ilang units ang city traffic office pero dito sa ordinance dapat mayroon sila at mayroon naman silang budget dyan. Kung gusto talaga nila ipatupad ‘yong ordinansa kailangan nilang mag-procure ng mga sound meters na ito,” he said.
The ordinance also set forth the following exemptions for some motor vehicles, said Dilig.
Under the amended law, motor vehicles and motorcycles used for sports competitions, motor shows, and other similar endeavors will be exempted from the ordinance’s coverage only on the days of the event and shall only be used at locations specified in the Mayor’s Permit or any document authorizing such event.
Motorcycles classified as big bikes, or those with an engine power output of 400 cubic capacity (cc) or more, are exempt from the provision, provided that they are operated at the speed limit set forth in the existing ordinance on city streets and barangay roads in this city.
The owner/operator must repair, fix, or replace the damaged or faulty exhaust/muffler system within 24 hours after being apprehended. Otherwise, the motor vehicle or motorcycle will be impounded with a P300 daily impounding fee.