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Recto: New license plates don't benefit motorists

MANILA, Philippines – Would the new license plates for for both new and old vehicles deter carnapping incidents and ease daily traffic? 

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday, May 21, once again hit the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for what he earlier called an "illogical" plan to replace all existing car license plates with new ones.

Recto said there were no clear benefits for vehicle owners who already have existing license plates, and who are being forced by the LTO to pay P450 for a pair of the new plates.

Kung wala namang problema sa kasalukuyang plaka ng mga sasakyan, bakit kinakailangan palitan at pagbayarin ang vehicle owners sa bagong plaka?  Ano ang kapalit sa ibabayad ng taongbayan?” he said.

(If there's nothing wrong with the existing license plate, why force vehicle owners to pay for new ones? How would it benefit them?)

The senator has raised the same question last year, when the Department of the Transportation and Communications (DOTC) announced the plan.

He said there was no point in ordering the mass cancellation of 16 million motor vehicle plates just to replace these with a new design.

Instead, the government should just limit the installation of the new plates to brand new vehicles up for registration.

“No matter how I look at it, walang pakinabang dito kundi dagdag na gastos lang sa taongbayan. At ang kikitain ay mapupunta lahat sa manufacturing company ng plaka na kwestyunable pa ang bidding,” Recto said.

(No matter how I look at it, this is only added expenses for motorists. And the revenue would go to the manufacturer of the new plates, which faces scrutiny over questionable bidding practices.)

Under the DOTC plan, car owners will pay P450 for a pair of new plates. Of this amount, the DOTC will get a P70 share as administration fee, while the manufacturer's share is P380.

Recto made the observation at the Senate's joint public hearing on Thursday on the P3.8 billion LTO deal for its License Plates Standardization Program.

The joint venture of Power Plates Development Concepts, Inc and J. Knieriem BV-Goes won the contract for the supply and delivery of the new license plates on July 22, 2013.

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, who chairs the Blue Ribbon subcommittee for the investigation, said the bids and awards committee allegedly favored Dutch firm J. Knieriem BV-Goes despite its alleged financial incapacity and inexperience. 

"There are numerous allegations of irregularities surrounding the bidding process. We cannot just be silent about this, especially with the amount involved and the inconvenience it is causing the public because of delayed deliveries," Ejercito said.

The senator also hit the LTO for implementing its controversial "No license plate, no travel" policy despite many motorists' complaints that they have not yet received their new plates.

"It is the public who suffers from the inefficiency of the supplier. But instead of addressing this, the LTO chose to implement their "No plate, no travel' policy. We cannot make the public adjust every time to the problems caused by the government," Ejercito said. Rappler.com