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ROUGH CUTS | Why millions of unregistered vehicles

Over a week ago news reports from the National Capital Region quoted the head of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) that in the entire country there are about 12.9 million motorcycles and about 2 million 4-wheel vehicles that are unregistered.

Oh, really? Well, the number must have accumulated over the years and it seems the LTO has not had any hint about it? Now what is causing this accumulation and how come that despite the seeming knowledge of the agency that there are vehicles plying the roads sans registration it miserably failed to deter the increase in the number and in fact somehow tolerated the same?

Personally, we have our own idea why the unregistered motor vehicles have ballooned in such a huge number which, according to the LTO chief himself, is roughly 40 percent of the total number of land motor vehicles in the entire Philippines.

We feel this situation started some 7 or eight years back when the LTO failed to issue annual registration stickers which for a time vehicle owners continue paying yearly. The stickers are very small items posted on a space at the front and rear glasses or plates of vehicles. Supposedly the stickers are issued during the first time a vehicle is registered at the LTO and every renewal thereafter.

But suddenly way back in 2014 (or was it in 2015?) the LTO started stamping on the official receipt that the stickers are not available and that the vehicle owners will be advised later through the media.

For a time there was such advice and the owners just went to the LTO to get their stickers. But in the last two or three years, the LTO stopped stamping the ORs with the notice of non-availability of the stickers. In our last registration renewal the stickers are not anymore included in the items paid in the registration.
Clearly, the absence of these small pieces of paper that is posted on the front and rear glasses or plates can very well help the LTO and other of its deputized agents monitor or track down unregistered vehicles. That is of course assuming that no geniuses have mastered the art of printing fake vehicle stickers; or that LTO agents are religious in flagging vehicles without stickers, and not just allegedly to comply with their imposed office “quota.”

Last Friday we realized that we were not the only ones who entertained some negative reactions to the disclosure of the LTO chief of the millions of motor vehicles plying the country’s road without registration. Our friend, a retired employee of the US Defense Department and once an auxiliary member of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) also has his own thoughts of the prevalence of such a huge number.

According to our friend it is “sickening.” He said it makes him beg to ask the question, “Why then should I even register my own vehicle?” He added that an agency that touted itself a “model” among national agencies, yet no one gets fired, penalized or prosecuted despite the many known infractions of its employees almost at all levels.

This failure of the LTO to have a handle on the surging number of unregistered motor vehicles, says our friend, is indicative of its relationship to the proliferation of the number of undisciplined drivers and irresponsible vehicle owners to the point that based on the number of years that the LTO failure to monitor and put a stop to the non-registration, has already made this vehicle owners and drivers’ violation a “culture.”

We agree strongly with our friend’s observation with regards to the prevalence of unregistered vehicles in our streets. And yes, if the LTO top officials know of this phenomenon how come the agency leadership has not taken clear and positive action on the matter? Say, why not the LTO and the main government agency to where it is attached gather their top thinkers and planners to brainstorm on what ails the agency and its system that it has failed to check on the unregistered vehicles?

We thought all the while that the digitalization of the processes at the LTO has already surfaced the weakness in its many policies. How come it haven’t and if we have to look into the more than 14 million unregistered vehicles as of last week just(?) or long discovered by the LTO it indeed is indicative that the computerization of the agency’s processes has not helped solved the weakness in the agency’s operation.

Or, is it possible that the agency “bright boys” have ensured that the development of the computerization programs for the LTO was templated in a manner that it will not deprive its men the opportunity to make easy money?

One example is the fight against fixers. Indeed the fight is innovated. The “fixers,” big and small, stationing themselves at the vicinity of LTO offices, or sitting on their swivel chairs in offices of “front” establishments, charge clients with so much but advise them that only this amount is reflected in the official receipt and so much of the remaining amount goes to the LTO “cooperative” and for the fixer himself or herself. The “cooperative” members will divide the “proceeds” either weekly or monthly.

Can you beat that “innovation?”


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