The Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) expressed its support for the petition of two House of Representatives members asking the Supreme Court to stop the controversial P3.8-billion car plates standardization program of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
Reps. Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada party-list and Gus Tambunting of the Second District of Paranaque City claimed in a 54-page petition that officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) adopted a Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)-like arrangement in the procurement of new plates under the Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP).
The petition for certiorari, based on Constitutional grounds, seeks the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO).
Prior to the appeal submitted by the lawmakers before the High Tribunal, state auditors had issued a Notice of Disallowance after finding the new license plates program irregular and illegal. Last July 13, the Commission on Audit (COA) ordered the DOTC, the LTO, as well as the supplier JKG-PPI to return the initial payment of P477 million for the purchase of the new plates.
AAP president Gus Lagman pointed out that even before the program was implemented, AAP opposed it as it only places an additional burden on the motoring public.
The AAP president noted that aside from negative reactions from the public, he also learned that most of those who have renewed their registration have yet to receive their new license plates, even though they had already paid P450 for it months before.
“How can you be charged for something tangible, then not receive it as soon as you pay for it? If the LTO charges motor vehicle owners for license plates, then the LTO should deliver them immediately,” Lagman said.
He also cited reports that the new license plates can be easily damaged by rain and floodwater. “We had no problems like this with the old license plates that are still bolted on motor vehicles, so why give motorists new problems such as this, when we know that Philippine roads are prone to flash floods?” Lagman contended. The AAP president said that at the rate of 20 typhoons per year, all motorists are bound to drive through flooded roads.
AAP had previously questioned the necessity of replacing old license plates that are still in good condition. Lagman maintained that that the new license plates should only be required for new cars being registered for the first time.
“Why should we replace our existing license plates when they are not dilapidated, defaced or broken?” Lagman said. “As long as they are clear and the letters and numbers are legible, we should be allowed to keep using them.”
AAP, the national auto club, is a private, non-stock non-profit founded in 1931 to protect the interests of motorists while at the same time coordinating with government and non-government organizations to promote road safety.