The start of any pathway to order on our roads is to have all vehicles accurately registered. Programs that help mitigate traffic are more effective if we know the number of vehicles using our roads.
Monitoring the number of vehicles is not just about mitigating traffic; it’s also about proper accounting of vehicles for tax purposes.
Registration of all vehicles impacts on government’s policy-making decisions and the measures that lead to a better traffic management, transport availability for citizens, adequate road capacities, environmental protection, crime reduction, road safety, and therefore contributing greatly to our country’s overall economic development.
But we know that there are countless vehicles on our roads that are unregistered. There are also those with expired registrations, or worse, those with false or double registrations. No doubt, these are constantly posing a big problem and even danger to the public and therefore should be addressed.
It is bad enough that we have seen the lack of vehicle license plates for the past three administrations because of legal disputes, but the government’s inability to have all plying vehicles registered is a more serious concern. It is estimated that there are anywhere from one to two million vehicles that are under this category. Most of these are motorcycles that can easily be lost in the sheer number of two-wheeled motorized vehicles plying our roads; but there are four-wheeled vehicles as well, including heavy utility vehicles that carry various goods, and even dangerous cargoes.
Think about the crimes, accidents, injuries and loss of lives that involved unregistered vehicles. More alarming is that a good number of these unregistered cars are government-owned, even those units used for law enforcement. There are many reasons why so many vehicles remain unregistered. The worst reason would be the dubious nature of their origins—smuggled, carnapped, etc. But there are instances where a vehicle is not registered simply because of neglect; somehow their owners did not know what to do, or just did not care anymore.
And while we are on the subject of unregistered vehicles, it is also high time to begin strictly enforcing the registration of e-bikes, e-trikes and e-quads that are fast increasing in number on our streets. These are practically two, three or four-wheeled bikes and light vehicles with batteries, mostly from China, affordably low priced and are readily available online or from small dealerships, or sometimes sold in hardware or department stores. Although they fall in the same category as the Teslas and the hybrid Toyotas or Benzes, these bicycle and rickshaw-looking vehicles are definitely of a different class, with their passengers susceptible to serious injuries in case of road accidents.
For a while, there was confusion whether these vehicles needed to be registered or driven by licensed individuals. But the passage of RA 11697 or the E-Vehicles Act, and the LTO AO 2021-039 that followed, required the registration of such types of electric vehicles classified as e-bikes L2b, L3, L4, L5, L6, L7—all of which have a higher displacement and speed capability. However, it is apparent that there is much work to be done insofar as enforcing the registration of these vehicles is concerned. In most towns and cities and even on major roads such as Edsa and C5, we see these vehicles, sometimes driven by minors, competing with other much heavier motorized transport—an accident waiting to happen.
A ready solution to this would be to call for an amnesty for all unregistered vehicles in the country, to include the electric types that we previously mentioned. This is similar to the amnesty on loose firearms that the PNP would implement every now and then, resulting in thousands of new registrations, thus contributing to higher government revenues and an accurate count of vehicles on the road.
It would do well for the government to implement an amnesty program for the registration of unregistered vehicles. The amnesty could even include the change of ownership of vehicles, particularly second hand vehicles. We have been told that this is now exactly what the Land Transportation Office, under its new leadership, is planning to undertake. We trust that indeed the LTO, which by the way has been busy with a lot of innovations and on-ground problem solving activities, will implement the amnesty soon.
The last two months of the year (November and December) would be the best time to implement this as these are the lean months of registration of old vehicles (registration is based on the last digit of the vehicle license plate numbers). This will also provide a revenue windfall for the government, with anywhere from P1,000 to P 5,000 in registration fees.
It may be that the hallmark of this administration will be its push towards digitalization, and rightly so given that indeed we are already in the midst of a digital world. But there are still aspects in our governance that need catching up. Proper, accurate and needed vehicle registration is one of them. This should happen without further delay.
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