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Top Gear Philippines

LTO advisory on license plates

So, the Land Transportation Office has put out an advisory on the status of motor vehicle license plates. The first part of the advisory informs the public that for those private cars registered by December 31, 2013, the license plates have already been released by the LTO head office to its "district offices nationwide." It then says: "Should you be denied issuance/assignment of plates by our employees, let us know so that we may pursue the proper administrative action against them."

We find this advisory both funny and alarming.

It's funny because the advisory is practically announcing to the world that the LTO itself is aware of the irregularities (i.e., unreleased license plates) happening in its branches around the country. It's alarming because this advisory is also an admission on the part of the LTO that it cannot do anything about these irregularities--that it is virtually powerless against its own corrupt personnel.

What this advisory tells us is this: Our government can't curb corruption within its own ranks, so the task of doing it now rests upon the public.

And here's the really amusing part: After devoting the first half of the advisory trying to convince people that it is doing its best to fight corruption, the LTO then announces the availability of what has long been a source of graft--the special plate. According to the advisory, if you want special alphanumeric figures for your new plate, you will have to shell out P15,000 or P25,000, because the agency is no longer granting requests for specific last digits. That's more money to be made from motorists who desperately need specific last digits for coding purposes.

The LTO should get its act together. It should stop passing on the responsibility of cleaning its ranks to the people. The agency can very well lick corruption on its own--if it really wants to.

The question is: Does the LTO really want to?

Vernon B. Sarne
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