Unabating LTO incompetence in car plates, driver’s license mess

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AL S. VITANGCOL III

THE Land Transportation Authority (LTO), under the present stewardship of Assistant Secretary Edgar C. Galvante, continues to show its incompetence in resolving the various problems besetting the agency. Among these problems are the P3.8-billion Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP) and the P836-million Procurement of Driver’s License Cards (PDLC) project.

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It will be recalled that the Commission on Audit (COA) disallowed the controversial MVLPSP under the previous Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). Yet, up to now, seven months into the new administration, the LTO has done nothing to resolve the mess created by its predecessors. Moreover, it has not refunded the millions of pesos it had collected from the hapless car owners who were duped into paying for the non-existent “security” motor vehicle plates.

LTO memo to accredited dealers

Galvante’s memorandum to LTO accredited dealers on the use of the conduction sticker number as temporary license plate number shows the agency’s incompetence in resolving the problem relative to the issuance (or non-issuance?) of motor vehicle plates. In fact, the memorandum apparently passes to the private sector the supposed basic services that should have been delivered by the LTO.

The memorandum reads in part –

“Pursuant to Republic Act No. 4136, otherwise known as the ‘Land Transportation and Traffic Code’ as amended by Batas Pambansa Bilang 74, and to ensure that only registered motor vehicles are used or operated on or upon any public highway, the conduction sticker number shall be used as temporary license plate numbers. For motorcycles, used imported and rebuilt motor vehicles, however, the file number shall be used as temporary license plate number.”

It further ordered all LTO accredited dealers to comply with the specifications and design of the temporary license plates for motor vehicles prior to their release or delivery to the owners. Car dealers shall be subjected “to appropriate sanctions under existing laws, rules, and regulations” if they will fail to comply beyond February 15, 2017.

The specified design is actually revealing of LTO’s hidden intent to use the temporary plates for a long period of time. Why require a “reflective sturdy material” if it is only for a temporary use?

The design further specifies that the font should be 160 points Arial Black. This approximates the size of the letters/digit of the first batch of car plates released under the MVLPSP.

Is the LTO still waiting for the COA to lift its disallowance of the project? For the information of the public, even if COA finally gives its go-signal, the project can no longer be implemented. Why can’t it be implemented?

Based on the contract, it is a five-year program from 2012 to 2017. It is now the last year of the five-year term and there will be no more appropriations for next year.

If they really want the car dealers to provide the car plates, then here is a better scheme.
Let car dealers produce legitimate plates

The Filipino Inventors Society has already developed and produced car plates that have reflective properties, sturdy, weatherproof, and durable. Car dealers can directly contract out to them the production of car plates – following a rigid set of specifications. These plates should contain serial numbers, which can be stored at the
LTO database and validated by authorities for authentication purposes.

Instead of using the conduction sticker number, the LTO can readily issue the corresponding motor vehicle plate number. Better still, all new vehicles should be issued its permanent motor vehicle number instead of the conduction sticker number.

Problem solved! Everytime a new vehicle rolls out of a car dealership, it comes with a Filipino-produced “standard” car plate.

This further conforms with our advocacy – Filipino first.

Driver’s license cards project

The LTO bids and awards committee (BAC) opened the bid proposals for the PDLC on February 1, 2017. As expected, there were accusations of rigged bidding—courtesy, allegedly, of the newly “crowned” agency officials.

The P836-million project was originally approved for the supply of 8.3 million pieces of plastic cards. Using simple mathematics, this will translate to about P100.7 pesos per card. However, for the final terms of reference (TOR), the number of cards was changed to six million pieces only but for the same project cost. Hence, the unit cost per card was upped to P139 per card. Where will the excess P39/card, or a total of P234 million, go?

At any rate, it was initially “awarded” to Banner Plasticard Inc. but the latter was “disqualified” during post-qualification. Banner submitted a bid of about P750 million. The second bidder submitted a bid which wasP65 million more than that of Banner’s. Disqualifying Banner will then give the second placer an opportunity to bag the contract. There were insinuations that the second bidder is the favored one.

Where did these insinuations come from? An executive of the favored bidder purportedly makes nocturnal visits to the chief of the Management Information Division (MID) and the chairman of the LTO-BAC. From the original TOR, the terms were changed to suit the favored bidder. Still, the favored bidder was not able to submit the lowest calculated bid. Hence, the need to disqualify Banner.

In fact, the appointment of this MID chief was invalidated by the Civil Service Commission (CSC). From Salary Grade 15, he jumped to Salary Grade 24 in his latest appointment. The CSC does not allow such a big leap in salary grade.

Another suspicious item in the TOR is the supply of new PVC card printers. Upon the completion of the supply contract of All Card for the year 2016, it turned over to LTO some 230 units of “new” PVC card printers. The question now is where on earth will LTO use the PVC card printers bundled in the PDLC project? Without the PVC printers bundled in, the total budgeted cost for the PDLC would have been lower.

If this PDLC project will be awarded to the favored bidder, at a cost higher by P65 million, then it will be the Filipino people who would again bear the brunt. The government has to shell out some additional P65 million from the people’s taxes.

Haven’t we suffered enough?

Case filed against DOTC officials

Years passed and nobody lifted a finger against those responsible for the paid for but imaginary (or using LTO’s own term, “virtual”) motor vehicle plates—which in my opinion can be considered as large-scale estafa.

On December 6, 2016, the groups of Citizens Crime Watch and Ligang Eksplosibong Pagbabago filed criminal cases before the Department of Justice(DOJ) against former officials of the DOTC and the prime mover of Power Plates Development Concepts Inc. (PPDCI). Named in the complaint were then Secretary of Transport Joseph Augustus A. Abaya, Undersecretaries Jose Perpetuo M. Lotilla, Rene K. Limcaoco, Julianito G.
Bucayan Jr., Catherine Jennifer P. Gonzales, and Assistant Secretary Alfonso Tan Jr. Ron P. Salo, who is now a Kabayan party-list representative, was charged in his capacity as corporate secretary and counsel of PPDCI and as the one who notarized the allegedly “anomalous” contract between PPDCI and DOTC.

The DOJ thereafter forwarded the complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman for proper disposition. On February 9, 2017, the Central Records Division of the Ombudsman referred the case for appropriate action to Julita M. Calderon, Acting Director of the Public Assistance Bureau.

This complaint is for alleged violations of the Government Procurement Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees by the above named persons. Whatever is the end result of these complaints will not have any effect on the “swindled” motor vehicle owners. Their money will not be returned. Their motor vehicle plates will remain “virtual”.

Thus, I urge civic-minded organizations to file a class suit against the LTO and PPDCI and demand that their monies be returned to them. Likewise, they should demand that they be awarded damages.

How about the looming award of the PDLC project to a “favored” bidder? I guess the recourse for the people will be to immediately file a complaint before the competent tribunal/s to put an end to this before it develops into something that will make the public suffer again.

As John Quincy Adams argued, “Obstaprincipiis, nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”

So, for PDLC, let us nip it in the bud.

allinsight.manilatimes@gmail.com
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4 Comments

  1. leave it to the dealers? has anyone heard any car dealer step up and say that theybwill take care of producing the plates of registered vehicles?.. no!.. because they created this mess.. they want to continue to sell vehucles that are nit yet registrable due to customs payment deficiency or release of customs clearance.. so wen d lto made d plates available upon regstration.. they went to d willing coa and willing courts to help them stop dis project and continue their sale of unregstrable vehicles and blame d delay on regstration on lto..

  2. The easiest way to resolve this problem, is give the money back to the people. If that can be done, it show that, no corruption, happened.

  3. My head is spinning after reading this article. Why is it such a difficult thing to issue car registration plates or even a renewal of a driving license? I’ve been waiting almost ten months to receive my renewed drivers license!!!

  4. How about the “no stickers available” which is stamped on the OR after vehicle registration? Isn’t it paid too? Meantime, what is being issued is the 2016 sticker. We usually pay LTO vehicle plates, stickers, TPL, connectivity fees, etc. which are virtually of no use. Whatever indeed happened to culpable violations of the Procurement Law, anti graft and corrup practices, CSC, ombudsman laws. What we see in the news are some or few LGU executives and its BAC members being called to account for ranning afoul of the laws.