The Bureau of Customs (BOC) have finally turned over the 600,000 license plates to the Land Transportation Office this morning at the Manila International Container Port. The plates were confiscated from its original consignee Dutch-Filipino consortium Knieriem BV Goes and Power Plates Development Concept Inc. (JKG-PPI) for failing to pay PhP 40 million in taxes and duties.
The plates arrived in Manila last year but was not claimed by its private importer after the Commission on Audit (COA) issued a "Notice of Disalllowance" for payment to the Department of Transport and Communications (DOTC), the parent agency of the LTO. Shipped in 11 containers, the more than 600,000 license plates comprise of newly registered combinations as well replacement plates which the LTO required vehicle owners starting January 1, 2015. The agency has so far issued plates mostly for January and February replacement transactions.
Last month, upon announcement of the seizure of the said shipment, BOC Commissioner Alberto Lina suggested that the plates which were deemed abandoned could be "auctioned off" by his office. But later backtracked on the decision citing that it might go into the "wrong hands" and be used for illicit activities.
The importer, JKG-PPI also tried to issue an appeal with the BOC to lift the "abandonment" status of their in shipment in hopes to recover it to possibly receive payment for the allegedly anomalous transaction. The appeal was however denied.
Several meetings between Lina and LTO Assistant Secretary Robert Cabrera later led to a mutual decision to settle the issue via an "intra government payment" solution in the best interest of the Filipino people.
While the over 600,000 plates will definitely alleviate the plate shortage, however the LTO's backlog has grown to nearly 3,000,000 plates as of January 2016 according to a Senate report this week. The number is not expected to subside as car sales continue on its positive pace.