We’re willing to bet our one-day salary that either you or someone you know owns a car that still doesn’t have license plates attached to it. That’s largely thanks to the Land Transportation Office under the past administration screwing everything there was to screw. And this included its glaring failure to upgrade and modernize the old plate-making plant.
Built in 1967, this plate-making plant supplied the country’s motor vehicles with license plates for nearly four decades—until 2005, when the LTO started outsourcing the plate production. The plant finally ceased operation in 2014, paving the way for an overseas supplier to enter the scene, and ultimately resulting in the massive backlog that we’ve been experiencing for several years now.
Today, as it marks its 106th founding anniversary, the LTO unveiled a refurbished plate-making plant. The special guest, Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, had this to say:
“The LTO had a lot on its plate when we took over. There was a huge backlog of license cards, while the court stopped the distribution of plates. Isa-isa nating sinolusyunan ’yan. Ngayon, may lisensya na at five years pa ang validity. Ngayon, hindi lang basta na-distribute ang mga plaka, gagawa pa tayo ng sariling plaka.”
At the inauguration ceremony, the LTO showed off seven new manual embossing machines which it had procured for the plant. Together, these machines can churn out a total of 22,000 plates a day. One automated embossing machine is reportedly on its way, expected to arrive in July and to be operational by August.
These machines, according to a press statement from the DOTr, are part of the deal with Trojan Computer Forms Manufacturing Corporation and J.H. Tonnjes E.A.S.T. GmbH & Co. KG, which “won the contract for the procurement of motor vehicle and motorcycle license plates to address the backlog from July 2016 onward.”
The rehabilitated plant will officially start manufacturing plates tomorrow, April 25th.
So, if your car or that of your neighbor is still missing its plates, there is now good reason to hope that those plates are coming very soon. After years of waiting, what’s another couple of weeks?