Stuck with Ducks
- Lester Dizon () - August 26, 2009 - 12:00am

What is with the government lately? It seems that some branches of government that were trying to improve their services through automation, at least on the surface, have been affected with a serious form of computer malady.

Take for example the Government Service Insurance System or GSIS – they have been explaining repeatedly through their radio ads that their loans and claims processing have been slowed down or, in some cases, stopped, due to the faulty computer software system that they purchased from IBM. They claim in their infomercial that they have filed a lawsuit against IBM to compel it to expedite the repair of the system so the GSIS can resume its “efficient” service to the people. So, in the mean time, people transacting with the GSIS are expected to just “grin and bear” the delays and, hopefully, the financial obligations of the affected GSIS pensioners can also wait while the system is being repaired.

Another branch of government that is suffering a computer malady of some sort is the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Unfortunately, the computer glitch at Customs is causing a far more serious problem than just delays – it is hampering the growth of the motoring industry, especially the motorcycle industry. Here’s why:

Most major motorcycle manufacturers, including the four Japanese assemblers – Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha – as well as the leading Taiwanese and Chinese brands, import the engines of the motorcycles that they assemble. After securing a Certificate of Compliance (COC) from the Department of Natural Resources (DENR), the motorcycle assemblers import the engines and pay the necessary Customs taxes and duties. The engine numbers are then inputted into the BOC computer database system.

Once the engines are out of the Customs warehouse and into the assembly plants, the manufacturers mate each engine to a chassis (with a corresponding chassis number) to assemble a complete motorcycle. The manufacturer then submits a Stock Report to the BOC with the corresponding stencils of the engines and frames to report the number of motorcycle units that they were able to assemble. Of course, the ideal ratio is one is to one (1:1), meaning each engine in the batch was installed in a motorcycle chassis.

The BOC compares the engine numbers in the submitted list to check if the engines installed in the assembled motorcycles were indeed the ones legally imported by the manufacturers. The BOC then issues a Certificate of Payment (CP) to indicate that the taxes of the imported components of the motorcycle were duly paid for. The BOC CP starts the documentation of each motorcycle as it changes hands from the manufacturers to the motorcycle dealers.

The CP issued by the BOC is transmitted to Land Transportation Office (LTO) for the issuance of Certificate of Stock Reported (CSR) for the importing manufacturer/distributor. The CSR, the clearance issued by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Sales Invoice issued by the motorcycle dealer are needed to process the motorcycle’s Certificate of Registration (CR) with the LTO, which will also issue the corresponding Official Receipt (OR), license plate and the corresponding stickers. The LTO documents will legitimize the use of the motorcycle on public roads.

And here is where the rub lies.

As everyone knows, the motorcycle industry is booming. The Japanese manufacturers alone are already selling more than 50,000 units a month while Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers are selling more than 15,000 units a month. Unfortunately, the BOC can only process around 20,000 units for their Certificates of Payment every month even though their computerized system supposedly can accommodate far more than that. After all, the engine numbers are already encoded in the BOC system and the manufacturers can submit a digital record of their assembled motorcycle units to automate the pairing and comparison of the engine and chassis numbers and expedite the processing of the CPs. Some motorcycle makers and custom brokers are even offering to donate computer units and programmers just to augment the BOC system.

However, for some unknown reason, the BOC insists on encoding the submitted stock reports manually instead of the digitally-automated encoding offered by their computer system.

The manual encoding of the stock reports causes a considerable delay in the processing of the CP, creating a considerable backlog, which delays the processing of the motorcycles’ CSR for LTO registration. Equally strange, the LTO will not input the digital data transmitted by the BOC unless accompanied by the original paper documents. Meanwhile, the dealers have sold the motorcycles through their retail channels and most of the customers are already riding these bikes on the road.

However, there is an existing policy among law enforcement agencies of “No Plate, No Travel” to curb criminal activities caused by hoodlums on two wheels, and many of the owners of the new bikes without license plates are being flagged down and accosted by the police quite often.

The delayed release of the motorcycle’s license plate and LTO documents, compounded by the aggravation of the constant police flag-downs, sends the motorcycle owner/rider into a furious confrontation with their dealers and some customers, especially the ones who bought the bike on installments, threaten to stop paying their monthly dues and return the bike. Prospective customers are discouraged to buy motorcycles because of the experience of motorcycle buyers and, eventually, the growth of the motorcycle industry in general becomes stunted and the boom begins to bust.

All because somebody at the Bureau of Customs chose to manually encode stock reports and somebody at the LTO chose not to accept digital data unless accompanied by paper documents. What good is computerized automation when it hampers processing instead of enhancing it?

Some pundits are insinuating that some scheming people at the BOC and the LTO created the delay to make manufacturers pay some “grease money” or lagay to expedite the release of their individual CPs, CSRs and registration documents. When you think about it, if a manufacturer pays let’s say P200 grease money for every motorcycle and the industry projects to sell 850,000 units this year, that’s a grand total of P170M in tax-free, audit-free income for the BOC fixers. And that’s only in Customs – figure another P200 per motorcycle or another P170M for the LTO “processors” and manufacturers/dealers will collectively shell out a grand total of P340M, further burdening them economically. Motorcycle manufacturers, dealers and the riders themselves will also have to contend with the crooks from the PNP, the MMDA, the local government and sometimes, even the lowly barangay officials, just to sell or ride motorcycles and enhance the Filipino’s personal mobility.

Furthermore, there are rumors floating around that some government officials were tasked to “collect” money to be used for the coming 2010 Elections and generating money from lagay has been a common and usual practice, thus necessitating the creation of new problems to ensure that Juan dela Cruz will come across and pay more lagay. Do we still need to wonder why many foreign businesses choose to establish their bases in other countries instead?

It is often hoped that we Filipinos will one day wake up from our stupor and soar like eagles to build our economy and better our lives. But how can we soar like eagles when we’re stuck with ducks like those scheming, inept and corrupt government officials? How long must we suffer as the “Sick Man of Asia”? When can we get rid of our nation’s ills?

* * *

On a more positive and personal note, I would like to congratulate the people of Davao especially their highly-respected leaders, Mayor Rudy Duterte and Vice Mayor Sara Duterte, and most especially, the co-chairman for the private sector, Engr. Lorenzo A. Te, Jr. for the successful and colorful celebration of the 24th Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival, which celebrates all that’s good in Davao.

From the opening ceremonies at the Davao River, which showed the unity of the Christian, Muslim and Lumad tribes who all coexist peacefully in Davao, to the Indak-Indak street dances and fluvial parades, to the Chinatown night market, to the Moda Davao fashion show and design competition at SM Davao, to the public and street live band concerts, this year’s Kadayawan, which culminated in a three-day series of events from August 21 to 23, made its mark as the biggest, the most colorful and the grandest celebration ever!

Again, our congratulations and our deepest appreciation for having us there during the celebrations.

Daghang salamat sa inyong tanan!

Madayaw, Dabaw!

Here are some of your Backseat Driver comments from last week’s “Dude, where’s my car?” by James Deakin…

Very nice article JD! A tracking system is a worthy investment, but I myself can’t score/win this in forum battles. Many car enthusiasts choose to spend more on audio and navigation systems and other blings. In the end, they end up victims of “gone-in-60-seconds” gang. But as mentioned, quality service and price are the main concern. “Common sense (also) is power”. Knowing that carnapping is very rampant here in MM and recovery of stolen vehicles is almost impossible, it is best to be equipped first with these tracking devices. – KERSMcPherson

I would like to bring to your attention that it’s very hard to register to your column for comments via text as you have written in the last paragraph of your column. I keep on receiving replies of “wrong registration format” from 2256, no matter how hard I tried to copy the suggested formats, the one that’s written in your column and the one that’s a sample format based on the reply of 2256. I hope you could correct this asap for people who wish to comment thru their cellphones.

On the other hand, I have this lingering question on my mind whenever I’m travelling on the SLEX or on the STAR tollway when it comes to the right speed limit that we should follow. If I remember right, SLEX has a speed limit of 80kph while STAR tollway imposes a 100kph. My question is: If I am travelling at the regulated speed of 100kph in the STAR tollway and another car at the back who travels at 120kph, flashes his lights at me to obviously give way to him, do I have the right not to budge from the left lane designated for fast driving? Please clarify me on this matter. Thanks. – rickmahorn (First of all, you are absolutely right! We tried it ourselves and found it impossible to text in. We’ll try to get to the bottom of it and update you soon. In the meantime, you can interact with us by posting at And to answer your question, you have every right not to budge if you follow the rules. Part of the rule also is to stay on the right lane and to use the left only to overtake. So if you hit the speed limit and are still in the right lane of either SLEX or STAR, then do not budge. Let the flashing, overspeeding dolt work his way through bending the rules to favor himself. If the cops don’t get him, karma will. Hello to the rest of your Detroit Piston buddies, by the way! Hehe...)

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