Press Release
January 31, 2022

SB 2493: Vintage Vehicle Regulation Act

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto
31 January 2022

The first automobile arrived in the Philippines in 1900, a "Georges Richard" imported from France by the store La Estrella del Norte for its customer, a certain Dr. Miciano.

When the eight-horsepower buggy sputtered along Escolta, a priest in the nearby Santa Cruz church was said to have wagered that the day will never come that the mechanized curiosity will be more numerous than carabaos.

Boy, was the good padre wrong!

And if that vehicle, or any make in the same year, will amble toward an LTO office or a private motor vehicle inspection today to be inspected prior for registration, it will be met by a chorus of doubters who will bet that it won't pass the battery of roadworthiness tests.

There are many vintage cars out there, at least a half-century old, which will not survive the mandatory tests with flying colors.

If current pollution standards will be used, none of the cars used by Philippine presidents from Quezon to Marcos will be cleared for registration.

If a wartime car has an engine jerry-rigged to run on charcoal, it will be a smokestack on wheels that disqualifies it from being street legal.

This is why I am happy that this bill that addresses the uniqueness and peculiarities of vintage cars has been crafted with care.

I have been saying for years that legislation has always trailed innovation, that laws have always been behind technology's curve.

Never did I imagine that one day I will be saying that legislation should be put on reverse so it can link with the demands of old technology.

Section 5 succinctly captures the justification.

"In recognition of their small number, their expected limited use, and the historical fact that the technology available at the time of their manufacture will not permit them to meet modern standards, vintage vehicles registered under this Act shall not be required to meet clean-air, anti-pollution, safety, road-use, and other standards that were not in force at the time of their manufacture, either as a condition for their registration and use on public roads or otherwise, the provisions of the Clean Air Act and any other law or regulation notwithstanding."

However, the same provision so requires--and correctly so--vintage vehicles manufactured after 1967 must be fitted with safety belts.

It is incorrect to say that this bill benefits only a motley group of moneyed collectors, those who maintain warehouses of trophy cars.

No it does not.

There are many families, middle class families, who have held on to their dad's or lolo's car for sentimental reasons.

I know of a friend who has kept his parents' 1961 Rambler American because his dad told him that it was in the car's plush backseat that he was conceived.

Woodstock-era Volkswagen Beetles, affectionately called kuba by those who dote on them, are not pricey heirlooms that could cost you an arm today.

Even millennials are hanging on to their family's bantam Japanese Colts and Corollas, saving them from the junkyard.

These are not clunkers headed for scrap. These are beauties that must be conserved.

So are we going to punish conservationists with a car registration checklist which they surely won't meet?

Or are we going to do the right thing and create a new class that will liberalize their registration?

There are other excellent provisions in this bill worth mentioning.

One is the online or onsite registration, which cancels a vintage on exhibit or in storage from leaving where it is housed.

It also sets a legal pathway for old cars whose papers have been lost to be legally reconstituted for a fee.

This is one initiative that will bring mothballed cars out of hiding cases--because for lack of papers, they can be deemed as colorum.

The other commendable section is the slew of incentives for vintage car restorers. This is in recognition of the burgeoning industry in the country that caters to this specialized niche.

Our craftsmen and artisans bring in dollars, create employment, and have built a global market of collectors with discriminating tastes.

Mr. President:

Let us greenlight this bill. I vote 'Yes'.

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