POSTSCRIPT / June 14, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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No Plate Available? Scrawl ‘NPA’ instead

AS MASS protest, all motor vehicle owners who have paid for a new license plate but have not received the item after a month may want to scrawl a bold red “NPA” (No Plate Available) where the number should be.

It would be interesting to see how many NPAs there are on the road (not counting those in the hills). The number can be multiplied by the factor 500 as not everybody would join a leaderless protest action such as this.

But if there are enough affected motor vehicle owners taking time to scrawl “NPA” on their front plate holders in protest, we may yet be able to get the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Office to move faster and more fairly.

Others, such as consumer groups, and possibly exasperated senators, can press an investigation and probably file complaints on other aspects of this anomalous procurement contract for MV license plates.

Back where we come from, “NPA” also stands for “Nice People Around”. They can be called upon — Duterte style – to right this blatant LTO wrong, but the proposed display of “NPA” protest plates has nothing to do with them.

We cannot gloss over this multibillion-peso racket and ask car owners to take comfort in the thought that they have contributed to the Liberal Party campaign chest – as suggested by irate posters in social media. (The LTO collects P450 for motor vehicles and P120 for motorcycles. There are around nine million MVs in the country.)

Ibarra Galang protested on Twitter: “The only rationale for LTO’s project replacing old car plates is GREED.”

Victims cannot help agreeing. There is no logical explanation for replacing a perfectly fine license plate with a new one as it still serves the purpose of identifying a registered motor vehicle.

The claim that the new plates are superior because of security features is a lie. Many car owners complain that the screws used to install the new plates get removed easily and the paint peels off after exposure to the elements.

The only security that comes into play is the financial security of the crooks behind this racket.

• Can’t PNoy step into LTO plates issue?

IF MONKEYS in the DOTC and LTO pretend to see, hear and do nothing, cannot President Noynoy Aquino – unless he himself is in on the grand rip-off – intervene and lead back his wayward boys to his imaginary “tuwid na daan”?

Cannot the favored contractors and their cohorts in government, in the famous words of NEDA gofer Jun Lozada (what ever happened to poor him?), moderate their greed?

Vehicle owners whose current plates are still whole and useful should not be required to buy the new replacements bearing the same old numbers.

And those who have been forced to pay for new plates, although they do not need them, should get a refund or credit for future payments.

While we are at it, vehicle owners whose plate and windshield stickers have not been issued, for the same lame excuse that they have not been delivered by the usual contractors, should have their payments refunded or credited for the following year.

In the first place, the windshield sticker only poses a safety hazard. On jeepneys, for instance, the accumulated stickers reduce substantially the see-through visibility of the glass already cluttered with leis, decals and religious images.

Still another thing: The LTO should stop requiring that a driver bring with him the paper receipt of his payment for his plastic license. That his license has been issued is proof enough that he has paid for it. He should not be penalized for not carrying that piece of paper.

• Senators hit LTO contract, incompetence

WE ARE in total agreement with Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto calling for an immediate halt on the replacement of all MV license plates.

The Batangueño senator said: “Dapat itigil ang policy na iyan. Wala namang problema ang mga plaka, bakit nila pinipilit na palitan? Anong pakinabang non kundi pahirapan lang at pagastusin ang publiko?”

Recto said those who have already paid for new plates be reimbursed until the LTO can show the Senate and the motoring public that something good can come out of it, “like making our vehicles less vulnerable to carnapping once these plates are installed.”

In the last hearing of the Blue Ribbon subcommittee chaired by Sen. JV Ejercito, DOTC and LTO officials were told to explain how and why they bid out that P3.8-billion license plates project when DOTC in 2013 was only given a P180-million budget for it.

“They had no authority to bid out that P3.8-billion project,” Recto pointed out. “What they did is illegal because there was no funding for that project in the 2013 budget.”

“Normally, you can only bid out a project when there’s SARO (Special Allotment Release Order). In this case, there was no SARO. Kaya nakapagtatakang nai-bid out nila itong napakalaking proyekto.” he explained.

What the DOTC and the LTO should concentrate on, he said, is easing the daily traffic jam that plagues the metropolis and ensuring that such mass transport as the MRT and LRT are working fine.

• Francis names Ocampo bishop of Gumaca

POPE Francis has appointed Monsignor Victor C. Ocampo as bishop of Gumaca, according to Zenit news service in the Vatican. The 63-year-old prelate was ordained a priest in 1977.

The diocese of Gumaca has a population just over 1 million, 912,000 of whom are Catholics. They are served by around 65 priests and the same number of religious.

The bishop-elect has had various apostolic roles, including that of director of the Commission on the Family and Life (since 2008); and member of the College of Consultors (since 2013).

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 14, 2015)

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