Yesterday, April 2, the Land Transportation Office published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer its Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033, officially known as "Registration and/or Recording of Vintage Motor Vehicles." In a nutshell, LTO now wants to actively regulate the ownership and the use of a vintage car, which the notice defined as "a motor vehicle manufactured at least 40 years prior to the current year, or with year model earlier than 1975, not a reproduction, and which has been maintained in or restored to a condition in conformity with the manufacture specifications and appearance."
In the bulletin, LTO laid down the guidelines and the requirements for the registration or the recording of a vintage vehicle. In simple terms, if a vintage car owner wishes to use the vehicle on public roads, said vehicle needs to be registered. On the other hand, if a vintage car owner only keeps the vehicle for the purposes of storage or collection, said vehicle needs to be recorded.
But here's the bone of contention: LTO is now implementing a restriction on the operation of what it considers a vintage vehicle. According to the new Administrative Order, a registered vintage vehicle may now be used "on the roads only during Saturdays, Sundays and holidays." In other words, a vintage car owner may now only drive his prized possession on weekends and on holidays.
Meanwhile, a vintage vehicle for recording "shall be allowed to operate to and from events such as participation in vintage car club activities, exhibits, tours, parades and similar events provided that such operation is with a valid permit issued by the LTO."
Vintage cars will be issued registration plates that display the inscription "Vintage" or "Antique," with their year model shown at the plates' bottom center.
As you might guess, owners of classic cars are now up in arms in private social-media groups.
"This LTO Administrative Order is unconstitutional," says Top Gear Philippines legal columnist and Land Rover enthusiast Robby Consunji. "The means employed in the new LTO memorandum is not necessary for its avowed purpose. It is a deprivation of property or the right to use the vintage motor vehicle; it is oppressive to the vintage motor vehicle owners; and the LTO enforcement drive encourages and entails a selective and arbitrary roadside apprehension. There are many more important safety problems with the motor vehicles on the road today. Why pick on vintage cars now? The Civil Code provides that any public officer who obstructs, defeats or violates the rights and liberties of another shall be liable for damages."
Consunji adds that vintage car owners "were taken by surprise," and that "there is a need to confirm if an adequate public hearing was done prior to issuing the Administrative Order."
Signed by LTO chief Atty. Roberto Cabrera and approved by DOTC secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, the Administrative Order is dated March 1, 2016, and will take effect 15 days after publication (April 17).
Interestingly, LTO specified the exclusion of public utility vehicles, cargo trucks, service vehicles, government vehicles and diplomatic vehicles from this new policy.
"Vintage cars are icons of the past," Consunji points out. "They are our link to history. The Administrative Order will discourage the ownership and the preservation of vintage cars."
Photo by Vernon B. Sarne