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“The same law applies to everyone, rich or poor” – LTO on tolerating vintage cane trucks on the roads during ‘intos’

ORMOC CITY – Land Transportation Office assistant regional director Edgar A. Catarongan said his office will not tolerate “special arrangements” with sugar planters here using “vintage trucks” to haul sugar cane during harvest season. “The law applies to everyone and they should renew the permits of their trucks and submit it to inspection just like we do with ordinary tricycles”, he said.
This was Catarongan’s response to a question whether he’d allow a “special arrangement” with sugar planters here to turn a blind eye on their vintage trucks for the duration of the harvest season, because some are really not up to shape and will entail a lot of expense to spruce up to LTO standards.
He said he has been on the same spot before, when assigned to other sugar producing areas, and has always told the planters that if the LTO bears down on ordinary tricycles for simple violations, the same law applies to everyone. In fact, he said, the more there is a need to monitor vintage trucks because they should be in tiptop shape while hauling cane.
“Here we have a truck loaded with only sugar cane on the road, posing danger to a van full of people”, he said. Plus, he added, these people are doing business and known to be moneyed so they must pay what they have to, under the law.
Catarongan was in Ormoc City for a public consultation on the proposed standardization of license plates. With him was Atty. Ledwino Macariola, the officer-in-charge for the Ormoc LTO, and other executives. The consultation was held at the Bayview Inn here with around 30 people in attendance, mostly motorcycle dealers and presidents of transportation associations.
Atty. Macariola was tasked at explaining the proposed standardization. Under the old regulations, Macariola said, the country had nine kinds of plates, not counting in various vanity plates. This does not only lead to confusion and abuse but makes carnapping easy and catching carnapped vehicles difficult.
Under the proposed standardization, the new plates would still be color-coded but will have security features that would be hard to counterfeit. It would have two visible security features and one “overt” or not visible to the eye. It is a barcode which would include the vehicle’s plate, chassis and engine numbers, that only a special equipment of the LTO can “read”. Any mismatch will subject the vehicle to question.
Even the locks of the plates are permanent with serial numbers. Attempts to dismantle it, other than an authorized LTO agent, would destroy the locks. The new plates would have a “shelf life” of five years.
It will also indicate where the vehicle was registered, so that vehicles from other regions are easily pinpointed.
ARD Catarongan explained that this is not an infringement on the right of people to travel freely, but the LTO has the power to inspect vehicles whether it has the proper papers. This way, he said, carnapped vehicles can easily be caught. This would also solve the problems of motorcycle dealers with clients absconding with their units after just a down payment.
The planned implementation of the proposed standardization is this coming January 2013. When a vehicle owner renews his registration, he will have to surrender his old plates for the new one. Catarongan added that vehicle owners do not even have to wait for their registrations to expire. They can apply for the new plates, if they want to.
This way, he said, vehicles with expired registrations like colorum tricycles-for-hire and jitneys can easily be caught. He told presidents of transportation associations that this will even help them, as it would eliminate unfair competition.
On the issue of so-called vanity plates like the CIS (Civilian Intelligence Service), PNP 111, Mayor and others, Macariola admitted during his presentation that the proposed standardization was not very clear on but thinks this practice would be prohibited by then, in keeping with the spirit of the new law.
Catarongan added this also goes for No. 8 plates for congressmen. ‘Expired congressmen’ are not supposed to use No. 8 plates anymore and are supposed to turn them over to the LTO. Sadly, their office has no record of one congressman in the region returning his plate.
He also stressed that a vehicle is “married to its plate number”. It is “till death do us part” for the vehicle and the plate, adding that transferring it to another vehicle carries the hefty penalty of P 15,000 for a first time violation. And in no case shall two or three vehicles, even of different kind or make, can have the same license plate numbers. “Each plate is unique to a vehicle”, he said. By Lalaine M. Jimenea with a report from Ted Marcos

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