Press Release
April 13, 2016

Recto to Palace, DOF: Allow donation of seized vehicle plates

Motorists who have long paid for new vehicle plates but yet to receive their metal sheets from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) may soon find their woes over.

According to Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, a total of 600,000 vehicle plates abandoned at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) may be donated to the LTO for distribution to motorists as soon as the Department of Finance (DOF) gives its go-signal.

As the approval may need "a nudge from the Palace," Recto has also called on the Office of the President to greenlight the donation. "Why not? Many cars in the presidential motorpool have yet to get their plates and stickers."

Recto sent a letter today to BOC Commissioner Alberto Lina "expressing full support" to Lina's plan to donate the plates to LTO after the consignee failed to pay the duties and taxes within the prescribed time.

"The donation will ease the problem of backlog in the issuance of car plates. Turning over the car plates to the LTO will benefit many motorists who have long complained of the delay in the receipt of vehicle plates despite full payment of higher fees," Recto said in his letter.

Recto also filed Senate Resolution No. 1741 in support of the BOC proposal to dispose the plates by way of donation, saying "public interest requires measures that will end the impasse."

"Although, admittedly, there is no time for the Senate to act on it, I have filed it just the same to put on record that the proposed donation has mustered support in the legislature," Recto said.

"The disposition of abandoned license plates through donation to the LTO will be in the best interest not only of the government agencies mandated to enforce traffic laws and ordinances, but also of the motoring public who have registered their motor vehicles and paid for the license plates," he explained.

The release of vehicle plates to motorists hit a snag after the Commission on Audit (COA) issued a Notice of Disallowance on the P3.85 billion license plate supply contract on July 13, 2015, citing the failure of the contract to follow the provisions of Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Subsequent appeals for COA to lift the Notice of Disallowance have been denied and dismissed, preventing the LTO from disbursing any funds to its license plate supplier.

Last March, the BOC reported that 11 container vans containing 600,000 license plates were declared abandoned after its private importer JKG-PPI failed to pay the P40 million incurred duties and taxes within the prescribed period.

The importer, JKG-PPI, appeared before the BOC and filed an appeal to lift the abandoned status of the shipped license plates but the appeal was later dismissed. To date, the license plates remain abandoned in the Port of Manila.

Recto said he finds it "odd" that the plates remain untouched despite the fact that the license plate backlog as of January 2016 has reached 3,000,000 plates since the issuance of the Notice of Disallowance by COA.

Recto explained that the BOC is empowered to dispose of properties abandoned or have valid, but unsatisfied lien for custom duties, taxes, and other collectible charges pursuant to the provisions of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

"The BOC is also likewise empowered by the same law to dispose of the abandoned articles to the best advantage of government through sale, auction or donation," the senator pointed out.

"The ball is now in the hands of Lina's superiors. The minute they say 'go', the 600,000 vehicle plates will be turned over to the LTO for distribution to angry motorists," he said.

"By releasing the vehicle plates, we not only uphold government commitment to the motoring public, we also strengthen the capability of government to enforce transportation policies," he added.

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