If passed, you might see more Vios, L300, Mirage G4 with red plates

If you take a look at the vehicles used by government agencies (i.e. red plate vehicles), they often consist of different makes and models. There's no major manufacturer or model that sticks out. It's understandable since government agencies have to go through a very long process before deciding which vehicle to purchase for their fleet. Sometimes, the automakers themselves donate the vehicles.

But one bill recently filed in the Senate could see more locally manufactured vehicles being used by government fleets and agencies – Senate Bill 2339.

The bill was filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros, and it's called the “Domestic Vehicle Procurement Act of 2021.” The title itself should already give an idea of what the bill holds. Essentially, it states that government agencies, offices, and departments should prioritize locally manufactured models when procuring new vehicles. What better way to promote locally made products, right?

According to Sen. Hontiveros, when the government purchases locally manufactured vehicles in favor of imported units, it could produce an additional economic output of PHP 14 billion and result in the creation of around 14,000 additional jobs. Both of these are very much needed by the Philippines given the effects brought by the ongoing pandemic.

It could also address the issue brought up by the Philippine Metalworkers Association (PMA), which led to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ordering a safeguard bond against imported vehicles. The safeguard bond has since been junked by the DTI after the Tariff Commission recommended its removal.

At the moment, however, only a handful of vehicles are manufacturer in the country, some of these include the Toyota Vios, Innova, Mitsubishi Mirage/Mirage G4, and the Mitsubishi L300. There's also Foton which locally builds the Toplander, Thunder, and other commercial models. With that, the government doesn't have many models to choose from, should the bill be signed into law. Honda, Isuzu, and Nissan shut down their assembly lines in favor of importing vehicles.

Assuming Senate Bill 2339 is passed, it could greatly benefit local automobile manufacturing. At the same time, the government procuring locally manufactured vehicles could help automakers involved with the CARS program.