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ROUGH CUTS | So many vehicles but LTO is losing income




Vic N. Sumalinog

WE beg for the indulgence of our readers for this column’s failure to come out in yesterday’s edition of this paper. There were more important things we did at the house early in the morning of Monday. Thus, we started late in writing our article.

As a consequence, we were unable to meet the deadline of submission for our column to be included in yesterday’s issue. But we hope that the absence of this column has made the hearts of our readers grown fonder. That is, that the “once-in-a-while” disappearance would even result to our readers wanting to know more of what we say of the burning issues of the time.


And talking of the present times, well, we are all aware that we are already into the 10th month of the global pandemic brought about by the highly infectious Corona Virus Disease (CoViD) 2019. The consequence is that governments all over the world have to institute measures to curb the further spread of the disease. And this is true in the Philippines as well.

One of the measures adopted by our government is to close a good percentage of the country’s economy in order to limit people’s movement or travel. Somehow, the strategy appears to be effective. More people are forced to stay home even as many actually lost their income as a result of the closure or reduction in the operation level of business establishments and industries they work in.

The travel restrictions definitely made clear impact on the traffic situation in various parts of the Philippines – initially, that is. But as such protocol was slowly eased with the re-opening of some economic activities in the country the traffic situation is observed to be fast going back to its former “normal.”

Roads are in chaos again. One thing is clearly visible though. Yes, at this time when the traditional public utility jeeps are still banned from plying back their routes, the vehicular traffic build-ups these days are dominated mostly by private vehicles. And this is true in Davao City’s daily vehicular gridlock mostly in the main roads leading into and outside the city’s main business center.

This reversion of the city roads to its “normal” day-to-day traffic mess prior to the pandemic can only be indicative of one thing. That is, that despite the so-called hard times, a good number of the residents of Davao City have acquired vehicles for their private use.

For who cannot when so many new second hand and imported surplus vehicle dealers have opened shops in the city? Moreover, there are a good number of lending businesses willing to finance purchases of low-priced surplus vehicles. So, it’s not anymore surprising to see houses of ordinary residents even in far-flung villages having garage of their own for small vehicles bearing well-known Japanese or Korean brands.

This easy acquisition of vehicles for private use definitely has contributed to a large degree the increase in the number of units plying Davao City’s streets as many of the owners use these for private travels to downtown, or sell their farm products and other merchandise to the city’s primary markets. So, even if there are still a number of old jeeps and other public utility vehicles like buses and UV express still out of the road due to intra-province travel restrictions, traffic congestion still remains an every work day scene in Davao City.

Intriguingly though, we have it from sources inside the local Land Transportation Office (LTO) the information that the agency is having quite a low collection in terms of vehicle registration fees. Meaning, the LTO coffer’s diminishing registration fee income is very much in contrast compared to the steep rise in the number of vehicles owned by Davao City and by Davao Region residents. Why is this sad state of the Davao Region’s LTO vehicle registration income happening?

Our sources at the LTO tells us that such could only be the outcome of the ban on registration in this particular regional office of surplus vehicles acquired from dealers or distributors in the Davao areas. So what is happening now is that LTO offices mostly in Region 12 like Kidapawan and Midsayap, in Region 10 specifically in Iligan City, are making a killing from registrants coming from Davao City.
Sadly, the thousands of such surplus vehicles acquired from Davao City shops but registered somewhere else, are plying daily in all the main roads of this southern metropolis. The owners however are not contributing even a single centavo to prop up the local LTO collection from registration fees.
Meanwhile, the huge number of these surplus vehicles, without doubt, are contributing immensely to the rapid deterioration of the city roads even as these add up to the daily build-up of vehicular traffic in the city’s major thoroughfares.
Indeed we are sad with the reported diminution of the LTO Davao Region’s vehicle registration income despite the ever increasing number of units using roads and highways under its jurisdiction.

So, we could only ask: Who or what higher authority issued the ban on the registration of surplus vehicles at the local LTO?
Seemingly, it does not do justice to what is happening daily in some of Davao City’s primary roads. Maybe it is about time to reconsider such prohibition. After all, is it not more beneficial to Davao City and to the regional LTO to get back what they lost due to the ban?

The city, though it will continue to suffer the heavy traffic, will have better handle in regulating the entry of surplus vehicles from abroad and its  sale here. The LTO surely will have a big boost in its registration income.

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