You have to hand it to us Pinoys: when it comes to finding a creative way to rig a system, there are few that can claim to be better.
Take vehicle emissions for instance. When the government passed the Clean Air Act in 1999, we knew that cars would be the clear target. Vehicle emissions account for a good majority of carbon dioxide emissions in various countries, and finding a way to make sure emissions are within reasonable standards is key.
One system that plays a major role in that is the network of private emissions testing centers (PETCs) in the Philippines. Every motorcycle owner knows that they have to visit a PETC to get their bikes emissions compliant every year after the initial 1-year registration (3-years for bikes 250cc and above) expires. While it may be a nuisance to some, it's important to ensure that motorcycles are within safe and proper operating norms.
But we don't live in an ideal world, and that's why we have these completely faked emissions “tests”.
In the last couple of months, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) have been revoking the permits of various PETCs nationwide due to reports that they have been submitting doctored results to the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Now there have been questions about the testing methods and equipment and PETCs, as well as the validity of the actual results, but they are privately-owned businesses, and they understandably wanted a better bottom line (like a guaranteed "pass" on the emission test for a little extra), which is what likely resulted in these supposed tests.
We asked the DOTr to send us a few of the images that prompted the series of revocations, and most are blatant, if not outright hilarious.
The tests require a staff member to be shown in the image, which is submitted along with the emissions tests results, to be conducting the test as supposed proof that the vehicle was actually present and being tested.
The first image was submitted by a PETC in Pasig City showing a silver 2008 Nissan Grand Livina with its plates attached undergoing testing. The staff member is shown in the image to be conducting the test as supposed proof that the vehicle is actually being tested.
The second image, however, shows the same testing equipment, same technician, and the same car... but the plate has been covered with a piece of paper (or cardboard?) with a very different plate number printed on it. The registration file that was encoded in the data below the images state that it's the plate number for a Hyundai passenger car. We checked the plate with the TXT LTO service, and it's tagged to a “pristine blue” 2014 Hyundai Eon.
The image above is from the same PETC with the same technician, but this time they're testing a 2003 Honda CR-V. There's nothing unusual about the CR-V in the images submitted to the LTO, until they submitted a second entry.
Just like with the silver Grand Livina standing in for a tiny blue Eon hatchback, the CR-V became a stand in for another vehicle with a different plate number: this time, it's a leased Toyota. Upon checking with LTO, it's a black 2008 Toyota Vios 1.3E.
Another pair of images begins from the same PETC showing a red 1992 Toyota Corolla being tested, nothing unusual to report there.
The image that followed it is the same Corolla, but the plates have been obscured by paper again. The encoded date says it's supposed to be a 2000 Honda. After a quick LTO check, it turns out to be a 2000 Honda Civic in Passion Orange. If the color is original, that means this Corolla was standing in for a EK Civic SiR.
Perhaps the best examples that the DOTr sent us are the images below. Unlike this PETC from Pasig, this PETC from Leyte didn't even bother trying to insert any emissions testing probes into any vehicle. They just relied on the magic of Adobe Photoshop.
They just kept superimposing a poorly cropped photo of one of their staff (presumably) and test equipment onto a picture of the vehicle and sent it off. They did it in a manner reminiscent to someone asking the internet for help with Photoshop; you know, the kind we typically see on BoredPanda.
They even asked the lady to pose differently, but still wearing the exact same clothes. And she wasn't reserved for cars; they used her images too for motorcycles.
These are just two examples of PETCs coming up with a fairly creative - albeit blatantly illegal - way to fake emissions tests certifications, possibly for vehicles that can't pass emissions tests. Many PETCs, including these two, have already been suspended by the DOTr. Needless to say, the DOTr and LTO are keeping a closer eye on other PETCs regarding the matter.
While the LTO has had a fairly strong drive against fixers in their different locations in the country, the fixers found a way somewhere else. Yeah, fake it 'til you make it.