THREE months after being appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd as the new chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Assistant Secretary Alfonso Tan Jr. drew the attention of the Senate for his failure to address the delays in the delivery of motor vehicle license plates, registration stickers, and other problems facing the agency.
Sen. Francis Escudero expressed disappointment over the LTO’s attempt to “trick” the Senate finance committee into believing that it can solve the license plate and sticker supply by January 2014.
“They assured us last year that new plates will be available by January and that there will be no delays on the issuance of registration stickers, but it is now February and we are already nearing March yet it remains to be problem,” an irked Escudero said in an interview aired over DZBB radio on Sunday.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said his panel will not allow itself to be “taken for a ride” by the LTO official and if they find that the agency is incapable of addressing the said problems the Senate finance panel is more than willing to reallocate its budget to other deserving agencies.
Tan, was appointed executive Director of the LTO by Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, when he still headed the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in September 2011. Two months later, President Aquino appointed him as LTO chief following the retirement of Assistant Secretary Virginia Torres.
Tan in a previous interview claimed that the agency has already addressed the backlog on the release of license plates for brand new vehicles and that car owners could expect the immediate release of their plates less than a month after vehicle purchase. But the present situation shows otherwise.
Besides the plate and stickers, the new LTO leadership also failed to prioritize the operation of the existing motor vehicle inspection system (MVIS) for public utility vehicles (PUVs) despite available funds the agency can use to repair the facility.
Five existing MVIS centers in the country were put up by the DOTC to handle the roadworthiness of all PUVs for the safety of all passengers. However, most of the MVIS facilities are not fully functional because the LTO is unable to maintain it properly.
Escudero said that the Committee would also look into the absorptive capacity of the DOTC to carry out programs funded under the annual General Appropriations Act in order to hasten the implementation of various mass transportation projects.
The DOTC is the biggest implementing agency under the administration’s public-private partnership program, which ironically has been slow in carrying out projects, particularly railways and mass transportation system.
“The delays are incurred in the implementation of three railway projects, Information Technology projects, the release of license plates for motor vehicles, and the Metro Rail Transit 3 [MRT 3] expansion and MRT acquisition. Each day these projects are delayed only adds to the burden of the riding public who relies solely on mass transportation,” Escudero said.
The lawmaker also reiterated his call for the government to take over the operational control and ownership of the Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) and urged the DOTC to strictly implement Executive Order 126 of President Aquino authorizing the DOTC and the Department of Finance to buy out the MRTC to the tune of P56 billion.
The DOTC and the MRTC have been locked in a legal battle over the purchase of 48 train coaches for MRT 3—a project envisioned to improve the mass transport system and increase the frequency of train service.
The people, Escudero said, are running out of patience over the agency’s delays “which but prolong the agony of the Filipinos they are supposed to serve as the lead agency for transport and communication.”
“Given that the DOTC has been provided appropriation to implement mass transport projects, it should do its part to maximize the use of these financial resources and provide sufficient and efficient mass transport system as part of its mandate,” he pointed out.