Is This Where Our Taxes Go?
- Lester Dizon () - September 30, 2009 - 12:00am

The devastating calamity caused by typhoon Ondoy in Metro Manila is now leading people to ask, “Where did our taxes go?”

The unusually strong rains and the resulting floods may have been caused by global climate changes, which we further contribute to with our polluting old buses and jeepneys, and the indiscriminate cutting of trees, but the pitiful rescue and relief operations that were needed afterwards was an eye opener. There are even suspicions that water was released from a dam without warning the residents in low-lying areas.

The government can allocate billions of pesos in pork barrel to congressmen for their loyalty but where does all this money go? Countryside Development Programs? Really? So, where are the results? Majority of the money goes into projects that are tainted with anomalies and bring no direct benefits to their constituents. Some money goes to tents with their names on it and karaoke machines that these congressmen lend out during parties or funerals of their loyal followers. Some of the money end up in the congressmen’s “propaganda” fund – tarpaulins that now litter the electric posts and overhead wires that cover traffic lights only to say “Happy Fiesta”, Happy Graduation”, “Happy New Year”, “A Priority Project of Congressman So and So” and the now-prevalent “Go Out and Register and then Vote for Me”.

Did they spend money for Disaster Readiness Programs? Some say they did. So, where were the rubber boats when these were needed to rescue people who were trapped on top of the roof tops of their houses? Where were the food and water rations and the blankets for the rescued victims? Why do they need to call out to private companies for help when they were supposed to be ready? Where were the assigned evacuation and relief centers? Is the Flood Control Team of the MMDA really effective or do we need to disband it for ineffectiveness? Are the zoning engineers of local government units really doing their jobs to ensure proper land use or are they just rubber stamps?

This administration can spend a million pesos on dinners during state visits and P300 million on each of the campaign kitties of their mayoralty candidates yet they cannot afford to modernize rescue and relief units? My God! I believe it’s time for government to be transparent and show the people just where all the money goes.

* * *

Some relatives of a seamstress friend of ours were trapped by the floods in their home near the Tumana Bridge in Marikina last Saturday. They narrated that the flood waters rose so fast that they didn’t have time to get some provisions when they evacuated to the rooftops. Some of their kids, including a 1-year-old baby, stayed from 10am to 6pm under the pouring rain and without food before they could be rescued late Saturday night.

Worried, our seamstress friend went from her shop in West Avenue, QC to Marikina, walked for several kilometers in flood waters Sunday morning and found her relatives before noon in an evacuation center. She volunteered to take the kids, who were still wet, muddy, cold and hungry, with her to the shop while the adults stayed to salvage what they can.

On the way back, they waded through muddy flood waters and when they finally reached the dry parts of Marikina, she tried to hail a taxi to take them to West Avenue. One taxi with plate number TXP-278 asked for P900 fare because the driver reasoned that he’ll have to spend that much to have the interior of his cab cleaned after they’ve disembarked. She argued that she only had P400 and that she needed to buy at least some hot soup and food for the children and some medicine but her plea fell on deaf ears.

She hailed another cab driver, who asked for the P400 she had on her but demanded P300 more when they reached her shop. She only had P50 cash in her shop which she could use to buy some instant noodles for her starving nephews and nieces but the driver took it anyway. The taxi fare normally costs just P150 from Riverbank to West Avenue but these heartless vultures didn’t care. Calling Asst. Sec. Bert Suansing of the LTFRB: Can you please cancel the franchise of these taxi cabs?

* * *

The Philippine National Police (PNP) recently extended the validity of the Motor Vehicle Clearance Certificates (MVCC), which is more commonly known as the PNP clearance, from seven days to one full month. The old procedure was that when a dealer sells a vehicle to a customer, the dealer invoices the sale and stamps the PNP clearance issued for that particular unit. The documents are then handed to the dealer’s LTO liaison officer, who has seven working days from the date of the stamping of the PNP clearance to register the vehicle and obtain its Certificate of Registration (CR), Official Receipt (OR), license plate and appropriate stickers.

Because of the increasing number of motorcycles and automobiles being registered around the country, there is a substantial delay in the LTO registration and some PNP clearances expire even before the LTO processing gets underway. In cases of expired PNP clearances, the dealers have no recourse but to apply and pay for another MVCC, which would take three days.

To avoid these situations and to help the dealers, the PNP brass revised Article No. 5 Section B of their Standard Operating Procedures Number 2 (SOP N2) which now states, “Duration of issued motor vehicle clearance shall be good for one (1) month”. The PNP must have felt that one month is more than enough time for the dealers to process the LTO registration given the current procedures.

On June 23, 2009, Police Senior Superintendent Roel B. Obusan, Chief of the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) Motor Vehicle Clearance Division (MVCD) sent an attached photocopy of the PNP SOP N2 revision to Mercedita E. Gutierrez, Chief of the Registration Section of the LTO-National Capital region (NCR) and stated, “As per guidance, the application of the new SOP will be implemented on new registration(s). The clearance for transfer of ownership remains as valid for seven (7) days.” The letter was stamped “Received” by the LTO on June 24, 2009.

The next day, on June 25, 2009, LTO Chief Assistant Secretary Arturo C. Lomibao issued Memorandum Circular No. ACL-2009-1173 addressed to all regional directors, assistant regional directors, transportation district officers and other concerned personnel regarding the revisions of the PNP SOP N2. The LTO Chief even added the phrase “for our ready reference.” The copy we obtained from an LTO office was stamped “Received” on July 2, 2009.

So far, so good, right? Well, not quite…

Many motorcycle and car dealers are now up in arms because some LTO branches, particularly in Region 4-A and Region 8, have a different interpretation of the revised PNP SOP N2. These LTO offices honor the validity of the PNP clearance from the date it was issued instead of the date of stamping, which was the usual practice. This makes the PNP clearance expire even earlier.

These LTO offices refer to an old LTO memorandum dated November 11, 2000 and issued by then-LTO Chief Asst. Sec. Benjamin G. Calima and a letter dated October 25, 2000 from then-PNP-TMG MVCD Chief Police Superintendent Jose Erwin T. Villacorte addressed to LTO Chief Calima, which states that “the validity (of the PNP clearance) should be reckoned from the ‘date of issuance’”. The scheming LTO offices interpret this “date of issuance” as the date when the PNP clearance was issued by the PNP-HPG MVCD, which is internally referred to as the “date of printing”.

However, if you read Villacorte’s letter and Calima’s LTO memorandum in their entirety, these documents state that “the validity of the MVCC (PNP clearance) should be reckoned from the ‘date of issuance’ that will be stamped on the MVCC and not from the date of printing”. Therefore, even these old memos clearly specify that the validity of the MVCC/PNP clearance starts from the date of stamping and not from the date they were printed by the PNP-HPG MVCD.

The scheming LTO hooligans will refuse to process registrations with “expired” MVCC/PNP clearances, which are actually not expired. If you’re in a hurry, especially when you have several angry customers waiting forever for their LTO plates and documents, these hooligans can “accommodate” your registration for a “small” processing fee. The other alternative is to get a new PNP clearance, which may take more time and money than just shelling out the “accommodation fee” to the LTO hooligans. Whatever option is taken, the poor dealer gets to shell out more money and the delay causes the motoring public more grief.

Does LTO Chief Arturo Lomibao, who used to be the PNP Chief, know about this?

* * *

The Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association (MDPPA) disagrees with the LTO regarding the implementation of the Radio Frequency Identification (RF ID) tag that would have been implemented starting tomorrow (October 1) on all motor vehicles (It is reportedly on hold. – Ed.). The LTO RF ID is basically a sticker with a microchip that will be attached to a vehicle during registration or its renewal. The LTO RF ID will contain essential information about the vehicle like owner’s name, engine number, chassis number, etc. that can be read by a scanner. Its proponents say that it was designed to minimize the incidence of vehicle theft, carnapping or colorum units but can show no successful precedent in developed nations.

According to Gilbert Limjoco of the MDPPA, their association was never consulted about the LTO RF ID and they feel that it will only duplicate the function of the license plate. The MDPPA also feels that the additional P350 for the RF ID sticker levied on the motorists through the LTO registration is an unnecessary additional financial burden that didn’t pass through a Congressional hearing before it was “hurriedly” implemented.

Furthermore, enforcement is predicted to be confusing especially since there is a question of which agency is really authorized to implement traffic laws – the LTO, the PNP-HPG, the MMDA or the traffic management officers (TMO) of the local government units (LGU)? Would each agency be required to purchase several RF ID scanners, which would be another burden to the taxpayers? There are persistent rumors that an influential group associated with Malacañang is going to make billions of pesos from the “hurried” implementation of the LTO RF ID.

Do we pay taxes just to be fooled and abused by the people in power because they can?

* * *

I’d like to personally congratulate Eastworld Motor Industries Corporation, the distributor of Motorstar motorcycles, led by Chairman Peter Ty, President Joseph Te, former MDPPA President Joseph Sison, Marketing Head Bobby Bayon and other officials for the recent inauguration of their new office building at the “Motorcycle Row” along 10th Avenue in Caloocan City.

The new building houses a Motorstar 3S Shop (Sales, Service and Spare Parts) with an expansive showroom, a fully-stocked parts counter, and a well-equipped service center, as well as the marketing offices of Eastworld Motor Ind. Corp. on the upper floors. Motorstar motorcycles are endorsed by Filipino boxing great “Pambansang Kamao” Manny Pacquiao.

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