You will remember that the Land Transportation Office brought upon itself another round of deep-seated hatred and online bashing when it published Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033, officially known as "Registration and/or Recording of Vintage Motor Vehicles," on April 2 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Very shortly and simply, the new policy is limiting the use of vintage cars (or those 40 years old and older) to weekends and holidays.
As you can imagine, car owners unanimously protested--including those who don't even own a vintage car. The sheer lunacy of barring old-car owners from using their classic rides during weekdays is universally infuriating. Especially when you take into consideration the fact that equally old public-utility vehicles that are no longer roadworthy are allowed to transport precious lives out there.
After being on the receiving end of the motoring public's wrath over the issue, the LTO ultimately "relented" and announced on April 6 that it was "recalling the publication of the AO on vintage cars while pursuing consultations with different auto groups."
Still, observers and analysts are suspicious of the turn of events, including Land Rover Club of the Philippines president Robby Consunji, who also happens to be our legal columnist and off-road editor. He says that his club served a position paper to both DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and LTO chief Atty. Roberto Cabrera yesterday in hopes of convincing said officials to repeal the AO.
"The LTO spokesperson never said they would recall the administrative order," Consunji points out. "His press statement says to recall the publication of the AO. Those are two different things. The fact is that the publication process is already complete; there is nothing to stop the AO anymore. The AO was already deposited with the UP Law Center; it was received on March 31, 2016. It's a wavering and ambiguous style that gives kotong cops basis to harass the average motorist. The AO is ripe for enforcement on April 17, as the publication was completed on April 2. The Administrative Code requires only one publication of the AO, and the filing with the UP Law Center. Then the AO takes effect. There is nothing--no publication--for DOTC or LTO to recall."
Below is the full content of the position paper submitted by Consunji to DOTC and LTO in his capacity as Land Rover Club of the Philippines president (in italics):
The Land Rover Club of the Philippines (LRCP) writes to summarize its position on the recently issued Land Transportation Office (LTO) Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033 regarding the Registration and/or Recording of Vintage Motor Vehicles.
As an introduction, the LRCP is a club composed of approximately 700 owners of Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles nationwide. LRCP is devoted to the preservation, restoration, appreciation and use of the Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles ranging from model year 1948 to present. As a secondary purpose, the Club has conducted disaster relief operations for, among others, Typhoon Ondoy, Typhoon Sendong, the Bohol Earthquake, and Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
LRCP is planning a campaign to restore and preserve the 1970s-model Land Rover Series III Parade Vehicle currently in use by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This Parade Vehicle (also known as the “White Carabao”) has served our country’s Presidents since the 1970s; it deserves to be restored and be declared a National Treasure. LRCP members are currently working on the restoration of their Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles.
Pursuant to the rule on the exhaustion of administrative remedies, the LRCP writes your office to seek the following:
1. An express repeal of LTO Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033;
2. A thorough study of the need to regulate vintage motor vehicles; and
3. A public hearing nationwide on proposed regulation applicable to vintage motor vehicles.
Repeal LTO Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033
LTO Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033 was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 02 April 2016; a copy of this Administrative Order was filed with the UP Law Center on 31 March 2016. From the terms of the Administrative Order, it will take effect on 17 April 2016.
On 06 April 2016, the LTO issued a press statement that "the LTO and the DOTC have decided to recall the publication of the AO on vintage cars while pursuing consultations with different auto groups." (Emphasis supplied.)
From the terms of the press statement quoted above, it is the "publication" which is recalled and not the issuance and effectivity of the Administrative Order.
In order to avoid the arbitrary and selective enforcement of the subject Administrative Order, including its implementation with respect to the registration and recording of vintage motor vehicles on 18 April 2016, we respectfully ask the DOTC and the LTO to immediately and expressly repeal LTO Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033 through the issuance of a new administrative order.
With the impending change in our country’s leadership, we believe there is insufficient time to conduct a public hearing nationwide, to confer with the affected parties, and to issue and publish a new administrative order to regulate vintage motor vehicles.
Study the need to regulate vintage motor vehicles
LTO Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033 does not adequately state the intended purpose or objective for the regulation. In various press statements and interviews, the LTO chief and the LTO spokesman claim that the purpose of the regulation is to ensure roadworthiness, to control vehicle emissions, and to facilitate the registration of vintage motor vehicles.
The LTO has not cited any reputable study or statistics to prove that vintage motor vehicles have issues of roadworthiness or are not conforming to vehicle emissions standards.
If there are issues relating to the registration of motor vehicles, the LTO has not demonstrated that the issues of missing Certificates of Registration, MV File Numbers, and plate numbers are peculiar to vintage motor vehicles.
It is difficult to determine whether the means employed in the Administrative Order are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purposes declared in the press statement and interviews following its publication. The Administrative Order is unduly oppressive upon owners of vintage motor vehicles because it will restrict the use of their vintage motor vehicles to Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, or to car events and displays.
We respectfully ask the DOTC and the LTO to conduct a thorough study of the need to regulate vintage motor vehicles before conducting a public hearing and issuing an administrative order governing vintage motor vehicles.
A public hearing nationwide on vintage motor vehicles
Like many owners of vintage motor vehicles, the LRCP was surprised by the issuance of LTO Administrative Order No. RPC-2016-033. We were not informed of a public hearing conducted by the LTO prior to the issuance of the Administrative Order.
A good number of Land Rover vehicles continue to operate in far-flung farms in the provinces. The owners of these off-road workhorses were likewise not informed of a public hearing conducted by the LTO.
As you are surely aware, due process and fair play dictate that a public hearing be conducted prior to the issuance of an administrative regulation.
We respectfully ask the DOTC and the LTO to conduct a public hearing nationwide prior to issuing an administrative order governing vintage motor vehicles.
We look forward to your favorable response.
Photos from Atty. Robby Consunji