Answers in the wind at LTO

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Don’t hold your breath if you are a new car owner or driver still waiting for your new series license plates or driver’s license cards. But according to my sources on the ground, there is a distinct possibility that a “face saving” compromise has been arrived at between the LTO, Commission on Audit (COA) and other stakeholders.

Unless someone jinxes the plan, the possible solution to the LTO problem of releasing new car plates will be for the COA to “allow” earlier orders or plates to be released since these have been paid for by vehicle owners and dealers and were consummated before the COA issued their order of Disallowance. In other words it was all done in good faith until the time COA said “NO.” This I am told is what Assistant Secretary Roberto Cabrera has been suggesting all along and has even made the same suggestion to no less than President Benigno Aquino III.

If this technical compromise happens, my sources believe that new car plates with ending 4,5,6,7 and 8 may soon see the light of day and be mated to their corresponding vehicles. This of course will only be a fraction of the 11,000 total number of plates sitting at the pier. Those number plates ending in 9 and 0 will have to sit in the stove-like ambiance of their container vans until the LTO, COA or Congress arrives at a permanent solution or whenever COA decides to reconsider their position.

While I understand that the COA is simply following the law, the supreme decision which is with the public, has actually been receptive to the new and uniformed number plates. The only reason it went through a rough start was because the boy wonders of DOTC did not put value into “introductions” and “presentations” so the public was not well informed and “convinced.”

Whether members of the P-Noy Misadministration agree or not, the fact is 11,000 is only enough to cover the requirements of a small dealership that sold vehicles in 2014 and 2015. One dealership I know of is still wondering and waiting when they will get their 3,500 plates for 2015!

If we combine the two-year annual sales of CAMPI, AVID as well as other vehicle importers for agri, construction and industrial equipment, there would be a minimum of 500,000 or half a million vehicles that need new or replacement plates. Is anyone doing something to solve the problem or is everyone simply following their rules and their laws to the exclusion and gross disadvantage of the citizens?

In the case of driver’s license cards, there is reported trickle coming in. Perhaps it is about time that the Justice Department tackles the existing TRO on the project and if necessary petition the Supreme Court itself to review the validity and length of the TRO considering it is seriously affecting the rights as well as convenience of citizens. Whatever issues the former supplier may have with the LTO, and whatever legal remedies they may be entitled to, a TRO that deprives citizens of a product and service required by law and already paid for should never be undermined. I am no lawyer but this is what they always refer to as the rule where “The greater good of the greater majority” must prevail.

If there is a glimmer of hope for our new car plates and driver’s license cards, I also learned that even long time employees of the LTO in the National Capital Region or NCR recently had cause for celebration with the changes going on at the LTO. To the surprise of many, LTO Director Emiliano Bantog reportedly spearheaded two projects both intended to realign and fill the gaps in the LTO’s personnel deployment.

It seems that for as long as five to 10 years, many employees of the LTO-NCR have been in a promotions limbo or never got a chance to fill up vacancies because no one took the initiative of determining what vacancies or promotion opportunities were available in the office. By pushing for the filling up of vacant or vacated slots, Director Bantog caused a ripple effect or cascade of automatic promotions thereby boosting morale and actually raising operational efficiency by filling in the organizational blanks.

Another project is to develop “Job Order” (JO) employees or casuals who can’t become regular employees with basic benefits because many if not all of them are not civil service eligible. In order to remedy the situation the LTO leadership and Director Bantog have reportedly started a free reviewer course or training for casuals who want to take the next civil service examination. The entire journey might take a year or more for casuals or Job Order employees to pass and get their civil service eligibility, but it does make a difference when someone actually recognizes your potential and validates what you can contribute and achieve.

At this stage, there is some hope and that is better than cursing the darkness and the LTO. But if Asec. Cabrera and Director Bantog and the rest of the LTO officials want to move on, they must recognize that they have to carefully and strategically manage public expectations, they must work better with media, and they need to follow the advice of Albert Einstein who said:

“We cannot solve our problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” or “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

In addition to those wise words, I would add that it does not matter if there is only five months left, what matters is what they manage to get done against the odds in so short a time. It is always about what you “did” and not about “what you could have.” Believe!

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E-mail: [email protected]


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