Motorists who have been waiting for their license plates since 2013 may finally have a resolution. The Department of Transportation (DOTr), through the Land Transportation Office (LTO), is in talks with the suppliers of the license plates produced from 2013 to July 2016.

The LTO recently met with the suppliers of the license plates and is now conducting discussions to ensure that plates from as far back as 2013 will be distributed to registered owners.

“This is a very positive development because for so long, we couldn’t move forward with license plate distribution. People are asking us all the time, nasaan na ang plaka naming (where are our plates)? Unfortunately, even if the plates are there, there are legal issues that need to be resolved first,” said Transportation Secretary, Arthur Tugade.

As a recap, the plates were part of a PhP 477 million, five-year Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP) of the previous administration. The program was intended to modernize license plates of all registered vehicles, amounting to 15 million pairs. Unfortunately, the Commission on Audit (COA) found anomalies with the contract awarded to the joint venture of Knieriem BV Goes and Power Plates Development Concept Inc. (JKG-PPI) in 2013. In July 2015, the COA ordered the LTO to stop paying the suppliers for alleged violation of government procurement rules.

Of the 15 million plates, only four million have been distributed. The remaining plates were found abandoned in shipping containers in the Manila Port. Distribution of the remaining plates, numbering a staggering 11 million, were put on hold by a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the Supreme Court (SC) and Notice of Disallowance (ND) from COA. On July 17, the LTO received the resolution lifting the ND, six months after the SC lifted its TRO. The disallowance covers the advance payment made by the LTO to the suppliers in June and July 2014 amounting to PhP477-Million.

The LTO said the suppliers have been very cooperative.

“They assured us that they will just follow our lead. Kung anong gusto ng gobyerno, ‘yun ang masusunod. (What the government wants, that’s what will be followed). That’s why we are very positive that distribution of the license plates will happen soon,” said LTO Chief, Edgar Galvante.

The pending 11 million plates will be distributed after the LTO submits its recommendation on the amended contract next week.

In addition, around six million driver’s license cards have been printed. The LTO has ordered four million more to ensure that backlogs that hounded the agency before will not happen again.

In the past months, the LTO has established its own plate making facility to meet the backlog of plates for new vehicles registered from July 2016 – December 2017, the period after the anomalous contract. Plates for new vehicles registered from January 2018 onwards have already been awarded to a new supplier and are expected to arrive soon.