Stricter enforcement of LTO registration policies gives rise to finger-pointing

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With so many new cars sold over the past year, even the registration paperwork seems to have amassed a huge backlog, giving rise to the motoring public’s apprehensions over rulings by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) that years before were either ignored or taken for granted.

Take, for example, the issue of car registration, conduction numbers, and temporary plates. According to LTO director for Traffic Adjudication Service Dennis M. Singzon, there is already a law governing these vehicle identification details, and it’s Republic Act 4136 (the Land Transportation and Traffic Code) enacted as far back as 1964.

But it seems that it’s only now that it has been given due attention, thanks largely to a series of memos issued by the office involving the “no registration, no travel,” “no registration, no release of unit,” and the use of conduction numbers as temporary license plates policies.
The humor in this is that all these memos merely reiterate what has been stated in RA 4136.

Memos galore

These memos that LTO recently released include:

A memo on the “no registration, no travel policy” that would be “effective Feb. 15, 2017.”

Singzon explained that if the new car had no OR/CR (official receipt/certificate of registration), it cannot be used on the road. Violation of the No OR/CR, No Travel policy carries a penalty of P10,000 for client and P100,000 for dealers.

A memo on the “no registration, no release of unit” policy “effective Feb. 16, 2017.”

This would mean new cars should be registered with the LTO first before the dealer releases/delivers the units to client.

A memo, addressed to all LTO accredited dealers, dated Jan. 11, 2017, that states “conduction sticker numbers as temporary license plate number,” signed by Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante.

The memo further instructed all accredited dealers to “use reflective sturdy material, arial black font” as part of LTO’s directive for “for uniformity and ease of visual recognition” of the temporary license plates.

The LTO stressed that “accredited dealers shall strictly comply with these specifications and attach the described temporary license plates to motor vehicles prior to their release or delivery to owners effective Feb. 15, 2017.”

The memo further stated: “For those who have their OR/CR, kindly add to your temporary plate the MV file number located at the upper left of the Certificate of Registration and NCR on the lower left side.”

The common thread running through these memos is the fact that it’s against the law to drive around in an unregistered car.
Who’s to blame
But the major question now arises: Should the registration of new cars experience delays—and they will because of the sheer volume of them coming in—who’s to blame? The LTO or the dealers?

Singzon points his finger to the dealers and owners. “Due diligence is needed. The dealer should remind the owner that he or she should not use the motor vehicle while the vehicle’s registration is still being processed. On the other hand, the vehicle owner should be diligent in asking the dealer to process right away the registration of his/her car.”

He added that one cause of delay is the dealers themselves “when they do the ‘batching,’” or “submitting registration papers of the new vehicles in batches.”

Singzon stressed: “If the vehicle was bought today, the dealer should give the papers to the LTO on the same day.”

The LTO and its regional offices “are doing their best,” Singzon said. Should the LTO experience delays, these are usually IT-system related. “If that happens, the LTO does overtime work so the backlog would be addressed and eradicated. I know for a fact that car registration is fast because I was (LTO) director in Region VI, and we competed among ourselves on who could process registration the fastest.”

Singzon said that the 7-day window period is meant for the dealer to register the vehicles. “It is not a 7-day window given to the owners so they can drive the vehicle pending its registration.”

Tey Sornet, a veteran car industry expert who handles multiple dealerships, disagrees. He pointed to several reasons dealerships experience delays in registering their new cars, and these include the filing of the “CSR (Certificate of Stock Reported) with the LTO” and getting clearances from the Philippine National Police, “which lasts two days.”

So, how would the dazed and confused owner of a brand new (yet unregistered) vehicle settle this issue before he or she finds himself or herself facing a painful P10,000 fine?

The person can file a complaint with the LTO, Singzon advised. “If there is a delay in the process of registration documents, and the car owner files a complaint, and it is proven that the dealer did not do its part, the penalty is P100,000 for the first violation, P500,000 for the second violation, and revocation of their accreditation as dealer on the third penalty.”
But if it was proven that the registration delay was caused by the LTO offices, and that the delay is “not justified,” Singzon said the erring LTO personnel would face administrative sanctions.



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