'DIY' license plates illegal – LTO

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27) — The Land Transportation Office (LTO) on Thursday reminded motorists that printing or creating their own license plates is illegal amid a looming shortage.

LTO chief Jose "Jay Art" Tugade made the clarification after appearing in a television interview on Wednesday — when he said the agency is looking to allow the temporary issuance of license plates to motorists as a contingency.

"For example, 'yung [the] motorcycle owners, in the absence of a plate number, they can create a plate number, and on the plate number, it will say the motor vehicle file number of the motorcycle," he said.

But in a press conference on Thursday, he clarified the temporary plates he was referring to are those attached by dealers on brand-new vehicles sold.

Improvised plates, meanwhile, are used for existing motor vehicles and motorcycles of vehicle owners who lost their plates, or have mutilated plates, Tugade added.

"Bawal po mag-print ng sariling plaka. Bawal po gumawa ng sariling plaka [It is illegal to print and create your own license plates]," the LTO chief stressed multiple times throughout the press conference.

Tugade said temporary plates for motor vehicles have conduction stickers, while those for motorcycles have motor vehicle file numbers.

Temporary plates also have specifications, according to a memorandum issued on Jan. 11, 2017 – on which LTO accredited dealers must comply with.

On March 10 this year, Tugade issued a memorandum to reiterate that the 2017 memo remains in "full force and effect" amid the LTO's backlog in the production and issuance of license plates.

"This memorandum serves as the authority to use temporary license plate in lieu of the indicated plate number in the OR (official receipt) and CR (certificate registration)," he said in the memo.

The LTO said motorists who will use improvised plates without authorization from the agency will violate Section II (e) of the Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01. They will be fined ₱5,000 and their improvised plates will be confiscated.

Car dealers will also face "appropriate sanctions under existing laws, rules and regulations" if they will not give buyers their temporary plates.

Backlog, looming shortage

Estimates of LTO's backlog for license plates are 9 million motorcycle plates and 2 million motor vehicle plates, according to Tugade.

The LTO is targeting to finish around 80% of the backlog by yearend. However, it is anticipating a shortage for vehicle plates in the coming months.

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"Ang projection ng [The projection of] LTO, we have enough motor vehicle plates to last until July. We have enough motorcycle plates to last until June of this year," Tugade told reporters.

He said based on the agency's inventories nationwide, the LTO still has almost 1 million license plates for motorcycles and 300,000 for motor vehicles.

"Pag di dumating 'yong blank plates, dadagdag siya [If the blank plates will not arrive, it will add to the backlog]," Tugade added, explaining the Department of Transportation is the one procuring the blank plates.

Sen. Grace Poe — who chairs the Senate public services committee  is asking the LTO to submit a complete report on its backlog on vehicle plates and license cards, as well as its timeline to clear these deficiencies.

"Thorough planning and estimation might help the LTO be up to date with its requirements. It can't always tell our people to rely on DIY and band-aid measures, which pose security risks and are prone to abuse," Poe said.

"Hindi dapat taumbayan ang pinahihirapan sa sitwasyon na hindi naman nila kasalanan," she added.

[Translation: The public should not bear the brunt because it is not their fault in the first place.]