THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) has officially turned over 300,000 pairs of license plates to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) on Friday after these were stalled for almost a year at the International Container Port in Manila.
BOC Commissioner Alberto D. Lina and LTO chief Atty. Roberto Cabrera signed an agreement to turn over the 11 container vans filled with license plates that were manufactured abroad pending the agency’s payment of P40-million worth of duties and taxes.
The BOC initially planned to auction the abandoned plates but Lina said they cannot dispose or auction off the plates because of legal and security reasons.
The shipment was held inside the port for so long because the supplier, Dutch-Filipino consortium Knieriem BV Goes and Power Plates Development Concept Inc. (JKG-PPI), failed to settle the said import duties and taxes.
“Doon po sa mga naghihintay, humihingi po ulit kami ng pasensya at mailalabas na po namin ang more or less mga 300,000 plates and hopefully makabawas po sa mga ibang motorist na nangangailangan na ng mga plaka, [We beg the indulgence of those who have been waiting. Hopefully, the 30,000 plates that will be released will ease the backlog,] ” Cabrera said.
According to the LTO chief, they are targeting to distribute the turned over plates by the BOC after 15 to 30 days.
The license plates are part of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) long-delayed license plate standardization program, for which the joint venture of JKG-PPI bagged the P3.8-billion contract to supply new plates in 2013, but they failed to deliver.
Aside from drawing flak from the public for the delayed release of the new vehicle plates, LTO was also criticized for the huge backlog in the release of driver’s licenses.
The latest issue LTO is facing is the millions of pesos worth of license plate sheets that were stolen from the central office compound in East Avenue, Quezon City during the Holy Week break.
The agency has already ordered an investigation on the matter with the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).