THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) may have to look for another license plates supplier and reimburse vehicle owners if the Commission on Audit (COA) stops the license plate standardization program, Senator Francis Escu¬dero said on Thursday.
The LTO will also have to return the money it paid to the winning bidder off the P3.8-billion motor vehicle license plates standardization program (MVLPSP) once the COA disallowed the contract.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said the contract involving the supply and delivery of new license plates entered into by the LTO and the joint venture of Knieriem BV Goes and Power Plates Development Concept Inc. (JKG-PPI) will be rendered void if a notice of allowance is issued by the COA.
Once the contract is voided, the LTO will not be allowed to proceed with its MVLPSP project. The agency has paid JKG-PPI P447,901,329 or 15 percent of the P3.8 billion.
If the COA stopped the project, the LTO, headed by Alfonso Tan, will also be required to reimburse motor vehicle owners who already paid for the new license plates amounting to P450 for motor vehicles and P120 for motorcycles.
COA already issued a notice of suspension on April 10, 2015 after finding various deficiencies on the contract.
The LTO was given 90-days to comply with the COA’s instructions regarding the submission of needed documents. If the COA is not satisfied with LTO’s justification, a notice of disallowance will be issued nullifying the contract and compelling the concerned parties to return all payments made.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, also shared the same view.
Recto said the program should be suspended and the LTO should reimburse thousands of vehicle owners who already paid for the new plates. The senator said there is nothing wrong with the old license plates and the move of the LTO to replace license brought additional burden to millions of vehicle owners in the country.
Recto said he found the decision of the DOTC to bid out the P3.8 billion project in 2013 highly questionable because the 2013 General Appropriations Act allotted only P180 million for the license plates project.
“To begin with, they had no authority to bid out that P3.8 billion project. What they (DOTC) did is illegal because there was no funding for that project in the 2013 budget,” he stressed.