It seems our friends at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) have had quite the interesting weekend.

Last week, we published a story regarding reports of how modified 4x4 vehicles owned and driven by off-road enthusiasts were apprehended over certain accessories and modifications such as LED light bars, steel bumpers, lift kits, and even different rim sizes. The reports were further exacerbated after an interview with the LTO’s Director for Law Enforcement Service, Francis Almora, wherein he cited a variety of documents such as RA 4136 from the 1964 signed into law by President Diosdado Macapagal, an LTO Memorandum, a DOTC Department Order, and even a Presidential Decree... by President Ferdinand Marcos.

Today, it seems there is a new development. We had a chance encounter with another LTO official: Atty. Romeo Vera Cruz at the induction of officers of the Motorcycle Dealers Association of the Philippines. In terms of rank, Atty. Vera Cruz is the Executive Director of the LTO, meaning he is directly under the chief of the agency: Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante.

According to Atty. Vera Cruz, the Land Transportation Office has no active operation to apprehend modified 4x4 vehicles.

While that may come as a surprise, the LTO’s ED says that the vehicles that were already apprehended were done in a random manner at the discretion of the LTO officer -presumably a roving officer- given the heavily-modified appearance of the vehicle. But Atty. Vera Cruz says there is no Memorandum or Department Order that would activate a wider operation and empower LTO officers (including deputized officers) given the lack of firm guidelines for officers on the ground to follow.

In other words, there is no open season declared on modified 4x4 vehicles.

Executive Director Vera Cruz also shared with that Asec. Galvante extending an invitation to modified 4x4 enthusiasts to have a dialogue so they can discuss the matter together, rather than be at the receiving end of protest actions, plans of which have already been set in motion.

Atty. Vera Cruz also discouraged people from spreading false rumors about massive apprehension operations by the LTO or other allied agencies in several areas tomorrow or anytime soon.