‘No vehicle plates before Noy steps down’
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The long-delayed release of vehicle license plates is not expected any time soon after the Commission on Audit (COA) denied the Land Transportation Office (LTO)’s appeal to lift the notice of disallowance that the commission had issued to stop the contract with a Dutch-Filipino consortium to supply the plates.

LTO chief Roberto Cabrera admitted in a recent radio interview with dzMM that the COA had denied the LTO’s appeal to lift the notice of disallowance that was issued in July 2015 against the consortium PPI-JKG Philippines Inc.

The Dutch-Filipino firm bagged the P3.8-billion contract to supply the LTO with vehicle license plates in 2013, but two years later, the COA issued the notice of disallowance and ordered the LTO to stop paying the supplier for violation of the procedures prescribed under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“It’s really difficult because of that COA notice of disallowance, there was an appeal but it was denied… hopefully it will be resolved soon,” Cabrera told dzMM.

Lawyer Leo Romero, a counsel of an LTO supplier, said that the agency would not be able to release the license plates before President Aquino’s term ends in June, pointing out that the contract with PPI-JKG was unconstitutional.

He explained that the LTO could not easily correct the notice of disallowance issued by COA.

“It would be a blatant disregard of the Constitution if the state auditors would reconsider the LTO’s appeal as it violates the Constitution’s provision that says no public expenditures shall be allowed except by appropriation made by law,” said Romero.

He said the only solution for the LTO to release the vehicle plates is to look for another supplier.

Sources said that former LTO chief Alfonso Tan filed the appeal before the LTO’s resident auditor to lift the notice of disallowance, but this was denied.

A notice of disallowance is issued by the COA upon finding that the procurement of goods or a contract entered into by the government is irregular or illegal.

Tan later filed an appeal before the COA’s office of the director but the appeal was also denied.

He then filed a petition for review before the COA chairman and two commissioners, but this was also denied before he resigned last year.

Sources said that Tan resigned from the LTO because he believed that the vehicle plates problem would not be resolved before the end of Aquino’s term.

Tan apparently did not want to be blamed for the LTO’s problem over the release of car plates.

Cabrera, who assumed his post in January, said he filed a motion for reconsideration of the COA’s decision that denied Tan’s petition for review.

In another interview with dzMM last Saturday, Cabrera said that they have filed a motion for reconsideration to lift COA’s notice of disallowance.

No driver’s license either

The LTO is also coordinating with the Office of the Solicitor General to resolve another problem regarding the supplier of the driver’s license cards.

The agency wants to exhaust all legal remedies after the Manila Regional Trial Court ordered the LTO to stop the award and payment of the P336-million driver’s license card supply project to Allcard Plastics Philippines Inc.

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