(Manila) After losing a couple of Congressional Protocol Vehicle Registration Plates (designated as ‘8’) to a robbery at its East Avenue Headquarters early this week, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) warned today that possession or purchase of the stolen plates will be deemed a criminal offense.
“Nevermind that the security at one of our main offices was criminally stupid… our main concern right now is to tell the public that anyone involved in the sale or purchase of these plates will be considered complicit.” LTO East Avenue Officer-in-Charge Sara Magtapon said in an interview.
The LTO has not been able to explain how it could possibly trace the stolen plates even if they are sold and used given that it can’t even regulate the legitimate protocol plates issued to congressmen.
Members of the House of Representatives are given two pairs of plates each for use with two vehicles. The usual practice, though, is to use the plates on four cars; attaching them to the front of each of the cars.
“The truth is having only two pairs of plates is hardly enough. How will my wife get to yoga in time if she doesn’t use one of the plates? And what about my children? How can my sons get to school without congressional plates? This practice of limiting our special plates is obviously anti-family.” Sorsogon Representative Danilo Makapal said.
Policemen have admitted to being hesitant to stop cars with congressional plates even if the drivers of these vehicles flagrantly break traffic rules.
“Madalas yan counterflow, running the red, o kaya swerving pero ‘di mo naman matigil dahil ocho nga e.” SP01 Bert Laproso of the Philippine National Police Traffic Management Group (PNP-TMG) said.
(“Often you catch them engaging in illegal counterflows, running the red light, or swerving but you can’t really stop them because you see their congressional protocol plates.”)
Consequently, the LTO reports that grievances against abusive cars with plate numbers bearing protocol ‘8’ make up a large part of the motorist complaints they receive. The office is helpless to do anything about the complaints because protocol ‘8’ plates do not identify which representative is using the plate.
Asked about abusive cars with protocol ‘8’ plates on the road Rep. Makapal said:
“Who are these people to question us? I say get appointed first, even as regional trial court judge. Then let’s talk.”
Regional court judges have the second lowest protocol plates designated ’16’; only next to first level courts which have plates designated ’17’ that were only added in 2009.