Earlier this week AutoIndustriya.com published a news item that the Land Transportation Office has issued a notice of award to the winning bidder to supply new license plates, a joint venture between Trojan Computer Forms Manufacturing Corporation and J.H. Tonnjes E.A.S.T. GmbH & KG.
There are, however, a lot of questions that need answering, the most important of which is whether motorists who have already paid for plates under the Plate Standardization Program, the policy under the defunct DOTC, will have to pay again. The answer is yes, but not that much. This was the word from LTO Director Francis Almora over a phone conversation.
“We cannot categorically state that motorists will not have to pay any fees. However what we are aiming for is to be able to release plates with motorists paying fees that are almost at-cost," said Almora.
According to Dir. Almora, issuing plates at at-cost fees is part of a directive that came from the President and reiterated by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to the LTO. Being that the plates under the previous administration’s Plate Standardization Program, particularly its funds, is held up by a case with the Supreme Court, Sec. Tugade approved a realignment of the department’s funds to proceed with securing a new supplier of plates.
The new plates will be locally produced under the joint venture. Dir. Almora also said the plates will have added security features including RFID. Dir. Almora said these will be factored into the lower prices as well. When asked for an estimate regarding fees, Dir. Almora could not officially release any figures, but stated they will be much, much less than the fees stated under the Plate Standardization Program. The LTO Director further elaborated on the timeline of the plate production.
“The cost qualification process is already complete along with the resolution from the technical working group. There is already a contract, and once procedures have been followed, a notice to proceed will follow," added Almora.
The agency aims to be able to start production of the new plates by March 2018. As previously published, the JV will start up a local facility to produce the plates. Almora also said that the issuance of plates once production has commenced will be quick.
“As soon as production starts, we can start issuing plates right away,” said Dir. Almora, pointing to the fact that the plates will no longer be imported, doing away with customs clearances and shipping schedules. The raw materials, however, are imported.