LTO starts distributing license plates after years of backlogs

Aika Rey
The Land Transportation Office's initial batch for distribution includes only 231,332 license plates for vehicles purchased from July 2016 to December 2016

FINALLY RELEASED. Transportation authorities start distributing license plates on July 5, 2018. The backlog in license plates dates back to 2014. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Office (LTO) started distributing license plates across the country on Thursday, July 5, after years of backlogs.

But Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade clarified that the distribution covers only those who registered their vehicles starting July 2016, and does not cover those during the Aquino administration.

“Una ho, hindi namin ina-address ang backlog noong nakaraang administration. Ina-address natin ang backlog of [the] present administration. Sana matapos ‘yan sa 3rd quarter of next year,” Tugade told reporters on Thursday.

(First, we are not addressing the backlog during the previous administration. We are only addressing the backlog of the present administration. I hope that we finish the distribution by 3rd quarter of next year.)

The LTO said the total backlog in license plates, dating back to 2014, has reached 8 million. Since July 2016, or when the Duterte administration began, it’s 3 million.

Out of the 3 million, the LTO’s initial batch for distribution includes 231,332 license plates for vehicles purchased from July 2016 to December 2016.

The backlog had stemmed from a controversial P3.8-billion contract bid out in 2013, whose legality was questioned.

The Commission on Audit (COA) issued a notice of disallowance to the LTO in 2014, which prevented the distribution of around 700,000 license plates then. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said these license plates will be distributed once COA issues a resolution lifting the notice.

Plans

To help address the backlog, Tugade also said on Thursday that the DOTr has a plan for newly purchased cars to come with license plates.

“Gusto namin, ‘pag bumili ka ng bagong sasakyan, paglabas sa kasa meron nang plaka,” he said. (Now, we want that when you buy a new car, when it’s released from the dealership, it should already come with license plates.)

The transportation chief said they are still evaluating which dealers they will work with, to ensure quality service.

“Merong prosesong gagawin na kung saan magkakaroon ng quality accreditation ng dealer. The quality of dealers, hindi naman pare-pareho ‘yan. Ginagawa at ginagawa ng LTO [lahat] upang ma-accredit ang mga piling car dealers,” Tugade said.

(There is a process that will be conducted so that there will be quality accreditation of dealers. The quality of dealers is not the same. The LTO is doing everything to have select car dealers accredited.)

Back in April, the DOTr had announced the purchase of 7 manual embossing machines to address the backlog in license plates. These machines can make 22,000 license plates per day “at full production.”

The DOTr also said then that one automated embossing machine will be delivered in July, and will be operational by August. That machine would be able to produce 12,000 license plates per day. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.