Alvarez says he has recalled ‘8’ plates to prevent abuses
Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Monday said it’s about time the protocol plate “8” be recalled to put the people’s representatives on equal footing with the ordinary folk.
In an interview over DZMM, Alvarez said the protocol plate issued to district and party-list representatives had been abused to avoid traffic violations.
“Para sa akin kasi, bakit kailangan pang i-distinguish mo ‘yung mga government officials ano, certain government officials? Hindi ba pwedeng pantay-pantay na lang tayo? Pare-pareho na lang yung plaka natin. Kung mayroon kang traffic violation, e ‘di hulihin,” Alvarez said.
(For me, why do we need to distinguish certain government officials? Can’t we all be equal? Let’s have same plates. If you have a traffic violation, then you need to be apprehended.)
He also said fake protocol plates were used by crime syndicates.
Alvarez added that he used to have protocol plates as a congressman and former transportation secretary, but he did not use them because they pose a security risk.
“Hindi ko ginamit iyan, sa kadahilanan na, alam mo, ‘pag ginamit mo iyan, security risk pa iyan. Alam agad kung sino ka,” Alvarez said.
(I didn’t use them because if I use them, it’s a security risk. They immediately know who you are.)
“Ngayon, doon naman sa kabilang dako, kung ikaw naman ay, minsan, may mga masasamang elemento, ay madaling pekehin yung plaka na iyan. Maraming gumagawa ng plaka na ‘pag tiningnan mo, akala mo totoo, at ito ay nagagamit din sa hindi magandang gawain,” he added.
(Now, on the other hand, there are bad elements who easily fake plates like that. There are many who make plates that if you look at it, you’d think it’s real, and it can be used for bad acts.)
In a memorandum dated Aug. 24, Alvarez ordered the recall of all the plates of district and party-list representatives in light of reports that cars bearing the special plate “8” were seen in indecent places or being used by crime gangs.
Lawmakers using the special plates were ordered to turn over the plates to the Office of the Secretary General.
“We have received reports that certain vehicles with Protocol Plate No. 8 have been spotted in indecent places or figured in crime-related activities,” the memorandum read.
“In view of this development, the Honorable Speaker has given instructions for the immediate recall of all protocol plates issued during the 16th Congress and earlier,” it added.
Alvarez said he also ordered the recall of the protocol plates of former congressmen who just ended their third and last term, or those lawmakers who lost their reelection bid.
But Alvarez said though his memorandum covered only 16th Congress plates, even incumbent lawmakers in the 17th Congress would no longer be allowed to use the protocol plates anymore.
He said representatives who continue to use the protocol plates will get caught for using expired plates.
Alvarez said he planned to co-author a bill seeking to amend the law that allowed the proliferation of protocol plates to high-ranking government officials.
“Kung ako ang tatanungin mo, I would discourage it; kung puwede naming daanin ang batas na gumawa niyan na nag-allow noong issuance noong mga protocol plates na iyon ay amyendahan natin. Ngayon, ang pagka-intindi ko, baka, parang mayroon na yatang nag-file din ng batas na ganoon, nagmungkahi. Titingnan ko lang, baka puwede ako mag-co-author doon,” Alvarez said.
(If you ask me, I would discourage it; if we can go through the law that allowed the issuance of protocol plate, we would amend it. Now, in my understanding, I think someone already filed a law on this. I’ll see, maybe I can be a co-author.)
In 2005, former President (now Pampanga lawmaker) Gloria Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 400 which set a uniform system of assignment and issuance of low-numbered and protocol license plates to high-ranking government officials.
The following are the assigned protocol plates: President (license plate “1”), Vice President (“2”), Senate President (“3”), House Speaker (“4”) and Chief Justice (“5”). Senators (“7”) and Representatives (“8”).
Other officials given protocol plates are Cabinet secretaries (“6”), associate justices (“9”), presiding justices (“10”), Commission on Elections chair (“11”), Cabinet undersecretaries (“12”), solicitor general (“13”), Armed Forces chief of staff and PNP chief (“14”), and regional trial court judges (“16”).
Alvarez issued the recall order following a report that four vehicles – a Ford Expedition, a Hyundai Starex, a Jaguar, and a Toyota Avanza – with the special plates “8” were intercepted by National Bureau of Investigation agents conducting an operation at suspected cybersex den in Pasay City on Aug. 15. JE/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.