MANILA, Philippines?The Land Transportation Office (LTO) has warned the public against buying number ?8? license plates, which were stolen from the agency?s office in Quezon City, earlier this week.
Anyone caught using these plates, reserved only for vehicles owned by members of the House of Representatives, would be charged criminally, the LTO said.
The theft was discovered on Monday morning by a morning-shift janitor at the LTO?s headquarters on East Avenue, Quezon City. Other items stolen were outdated plate stickers and P136,000 in cash, LTO officer-in-charge (OIC) Raquel Desiderio said in a statement.
?The intruders reportedly looted the desk of Leda Jose, head of the Plates Unit in the adjoining Property Office, who said she lost about P136,000 in cash, at least two ?8? protocol car plates, and a still undetermined number of unused plate stickers,? Desiderio said.
Jose also said part of the stolen funds was her personal money.
The LTO said the burglars obviously had no problem getting in because the back door of the Equipment Unit office had no padlock or knob for quite some time now.
The agency added that removing the air-conditioner from its mounting may have just been a ploy to mislead investigators.
Desiderio was appointed to head the LTO this month as OIC after the agency?s head, Virginia Torres, was asked to go on leave for 60 days amid mounting controversies hounding her leadership.
The news about the theft came as the LTO celebrated its 99th anniversary. Desiderio said she intended to ?get to the bottom? of the incident even as she noted that it did not cause a distraction from the kick-off rites of the LTO?s five-day anniversary celebration.
Meanwhile, Desiderio said she had been instructed by Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus to fast-track much-needed reforms at the LTO, which, in recent years, had been plagued with issues of corruption and inefficiency.
She said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) would initiate an audit of all its attached agencies to determine points of weakness and find ways to streamline operations.
?We are still studying if the audit will be done in coordination with the Commission on Audit (COA) or with the University of the Philippines-National Center for Transportation Studies (UP-NCTS),? Desiderio said.