SC lifts order stopping release of license plates
The Supreme Court has lifted the restraining order that stopped the release of around 700,000 license plates for motor vehicles and motorcycles.
Covered by the restraining order issued on June 14, 2016 are the 300,000 pairs of license plates for cars and 400,000 license plates for motorcycles.
During Tuesday’s en banc (full court) session, the high court declared as constitutional the use of appropriation under the Motor Vehicle Registration and Driver’s Licensing Regulatory Services in the 2014 national budget for the implementation of the Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program.
“The Court ruled that the 2014 GAA (General Appropriations Act) included an appropriation for the program and the use of the appropriation is constitutional,” the high court said.
The halt order was granted in 2016 to petitioners Representative Jonathan Dela Cruz (Abakada party-list) and Representative Gustavo Tambunting (Parañaque 2nd District) who contended that the Commission on Audit (COA) had issued a Notice of Disallowance, dated July 13, 2015, in connection with the LTO-MVLPSP, which required the return to the Bureau of the Treasury the P477,901,329 advance payment made by the LTO to the joint venture.
The program, which shall run from July 2013 to June 2018, has a budget of P3.8 billion for the procurement of license plates for 5,236,439 motor vehicles and 9,968,017 for motorcycles nationwide.
The DOTC has awarded the project to the joint venture of Netherlands-based J. Knieiriem B.V. Goes and local company Power Plates Development Concept with the contract being signed last February 21, 2014.
The DOTC and the LTO said the project involved adding safety features to license plates, such as tamper-resistant locks and bolts and reflectorized sheeting.
The high court, in its recent ruling, said it has already ruled on the legality of the procurement of the Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVPSP) in a separate case “and that whatever defects attended the procurement had been ‘cured’ by the appropriation in the 2014 GAA of the full amount.
The high court was referring to the Jacomille v. Abaya case (G.R. 212381) that focused on the legality of the procurement in consideration of the insufficient funding under the 2013 budget.
“The Court nonetheless determined in that case that the 2014 GAA contained an appropriation for the MVPSP and, thus, could be implemented using the funds under the 2014 GAA,” the high court said. /je
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