License plates to be released to motorists soon

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — Motorists are in for some relief as the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is set to release thousands of license plates soon.

In their frustration over the unavailability of license plates, some motorists have temporarily put up one sayiing "republika ng walang plaka" or republic without license plates.

But after the Supreme Court's go signal to release around 700,000 license plates, the LTO says it is set to release these as soon as the decision becomes final.

READ: Supreme Court OKs release of 700,000 license plates

However, of the 700,000 license plates subject of the June 2016 stay order, only 300,000 have yet to be released.

Half of the stock had been distributed before the court issued a stay order and regulators say the remaining license plates are replacements for old plates. 

But there's still the bigger problem – a backlog of six to seven million plates dating back to 2013.

LTO Executive Director Romeo Vera Cruz said they're still waiting for the Commission on Audit's (COA) action.

The COA disallowed the motor vehicle license plate standardization program in 2013.

Vera Cruz said, "Pending pa 'yung petition for review that was filed by DOTR-LTO noon pa."

[Translation: The petition for review that was filed by the DOTR-LTO back then is still pending.]

He pointed out this was a big deal as it would cover 11 million plates.

"We cannot pay because of the notice of disallowance. If we cannot pay the supplier will not deliver," Vera Cruz added.

Vera Cruz said they're hoping the high court's ruling will prompt the COA to act soon on their petition. But pending the COA decision, the LTO has already procured three million plates.

Vera cruz said these plates would cover vehicles registered from July 2016 to December 2017, adding production would begin in March and release would start in April.

But there were no kind words from frustrated car owners about this development because they said the process took too long.

Miro Ferrari, a car owner, said, "Matagal, pero I'm not really sure kung ano yung process, eh. So I'm just waiting na lang dun sa nag-aayos nung sasakyan sa plaka...Kasi it's a year na. So they're just gonna advise us. Usually, matagal daw talaga"

[Translation: It takes a while, but I'm not really sure what the process is. So, I'm just waiting for those in charge of the plates...It's been a year. So, they're just going to advise us. They say it usually takes a while.]

Jeepney groups buck modernization program

Meanwhile, jeepney operators and drivers led by transport group PISTON staged a protest in front of the LTO and Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board offices to oppose the intensified anti-smoke belching program and to seek the scrapping of the  modernization program.

PISTON national president George San Mateo said, "Hindi yong kasalukuyang program nila na modernization na negosyo lang."

[Translation: We don't want the current modernization program that is just about business.]

San Mateo explained what they're asking is for the government to come up with a new modernization program that's "socially just and democratic."