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EDITORIAL - Ghost stickers, delayed plates

Reflectorized and with letters and numbers visible even from afar at any angle, with tamper-proof bolts so they will be permanently attached to a vehicle, and a “third-plate” sticker that will leave a trace if torn off from a windshield: these are the security features of the new vehicle license plates and registration stickers. Protocol plates will also bear the dates of the user’s term of office to prevent their use beyond the authorized period.

The new license plates will be rolled out next month, with old plates to be replaced by the new as vehicle registrations are renewed. Transportation officials have clarified that vehicle registration fees will remain the same: P450 for four-wheeled vehicles and P120 for motorcycles.

A joint committee of the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Land Transportation Office awarded the five-year, P3.85-billion plate supply contract to Dutch joint venture J. Knieriem B.V. Goes (JKG) and Power Plates Development Concepts Inc.

The public can only hope the Dutch will prove better than the suppliers of the current license plates and vehicle registration stickers, which motorists paid for but were either much delayed or never delivered. There ought to be a probe on these ghost stickers and delayed plates, if not by Congress then by the Commission on Audit. How much have motorists paid for ghost stickers over the past three years?

Issuing new license plates to discourage carjacking, trip-cutting, operating without a franchise or colorum, and abuse of protocol plate privilege should also be accompanied by a thorough housecleaning in the Land Transportation Office. Even supposedly tamper-proof license plates and secure stickers may prove no match for crooks in the LTO who allow stolen or smuggled vehicles to be registered.

Traffic managers must also instruct their personnel to make full use of the new license plates in cracking down on trip cutting and colorum operations. Issuing new license plates and stickers is just one step in achieving the objectives of transport officials. And this time, there must be no ghost stickers.

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