Abaya vows to deliver driver’s licenses, plates
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - January 25, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Vehicle plates, driver’s license cards, more Metro Rail Transit trains and more point-to-point buses – the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) promises to deliver these before President Aquino ends his term at noon of June 30.

In a roundtable discussion with editors, columnists and reporters of The STAR yesterday, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said he could deliver these projects within the term of Aquino despite legal challenges.

“There are some projects that we could deliver within the term of the President. But some are just humanly, physically and Godly impossible,” Abaya said.

The DOTC has vowed to the address the problems in the issuance of license plates.

The Commission on Audit (COA) issued a notice of disallowance against the car plates project of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), an attached agency of the DOTC.

The COA ordered the LTO to stop the license plate deal with Dutch-Filipino consortium PPI-JKG Philippines Inc. after it found that the agency violated the procedures provided by the Government Procurement Reform Act.

PPI-JKG Philippines Inc. bagged the P3.8-billion contract to supply the LTO with vehicle license plates in 2013.

There are around 630,000 license plates in 11 containers pending at Philippine ports, which cannot be claimed by the DOTC as the bill of lading is still with the supplier.

The DOTC is currently waiting for a resolution on the COA disallowance for payment to the supplier to continue its processing and issuance of license plates.

The Manila Regional Trial Court also ordered the LTO to stop the awarding of the P336-million contract for the driver’s license card project to AllCard Plastics Philippines Inc. as there was “no approved budget for the project.”

LTO chief Roberto Cabrera said the agency is working on the legal remedies against the COA order and the Manila RTC’s decision so that the agency can issue the car plates and driver’s license before Aquino’s term ends.

The LTO noted that it has reduced the backlog to around 670,000 cards by this month. The agency was able to deliver around 45,000 licenses in less than two months, from a backlog of 715,000 in late November.

Cabrera said remaining deliverables of supplier AllCard Plastics would be able to resolve this backlog once the writ of injunction pending before the Manila RTC has been decided on.

There are still about 1.2 million cards with the supplier waiting to be delivered pending final decision of the court.

“This is more than enough to cover the backlog,” said Cabrera.

Cabrera said the LTO has also rolled out the bidding process for this year’s license card supply. The agency is inviting prospective companies to participate in the bidding as the supply contract is renewable yearly.

Abaya also gave assurance that the DOTC would be able to come out with two to three MRT trains running, with three light rail vehicles for each train.

MRT general manager Roman Buenafe said the new trains can accommodate over 40,000 passengers a day, with each train able to accommodate 1,192 passengers and each train making about 12 loops a day.

On the maintenance of the MRT, Abaya noted that most of the workers doing the actual work such as “tightening the nuts and bolts” are not foreigners but Filipinos, and they were hired by the maintenance firm that took over the contract.

STAR columnist Jarius Bondoc then asked Abaya to comment on the allegation that any company offering to maintain the MRT can just befriend Abaya, rehire the same people from the previous maintenance firm and be granted the contract. 

Edwin Lopez, DOTC undersecretary for operations and head of procuring entity, took offense at this, saying that Bondoc was “putting words in the secretary’s mouth.”

Lopez then walked out.

However, his staff insisted he did not walk out of the roundtable discussion but just had to attend a meeting.

 P2P buses

Abaya also said the airport premium buses and the expansion of the point-to-point buses project of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board would start operating before June 30.

He explained that the DOTC allowed the operation of premium and point-to-point buses despite the moratorium on the issuance of franchise because these vehicles are in different category and exempted from the moratorium.  

“This is what we are trying to say, we want to provide solutions,” he added. 

Asked if the DOTC is an “ungovernable agency,” Abaya said it is not.

“No, first of all, if your heart is in the right place, your conscience is clear,” he added, but admitted, “It is a sacrifice.”

Abaya was also asked if he would be willing to continue in his position if Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II would be elected president and appoints him again as secretary of the DOTC.

Abaya said: “I will resign first to give him a free hand to get whoever he wants. I will talk to my children and my wife and pray to God.”  – With Romina Cabrera, Ghio Ong


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