FIRM on seeing to it that these special license plates and gadgets would remain a symbol of authority and not a symbol of abuse and anarchy, the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group headed by Chief Superintendent Roberto B. Fajardo is stepping-up its conduct of its own Oplan: Tokhang versus unauthorized users of protocol plates including the ‘8’ reserved for members of the Lower House as well as sirens, blinkers and other banned motor vehicle devices in the country, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
Fajardo has instructed his men to identify and accost users of expired ‘8’ and other protocol plates, sirens and blinkers with the help of the Land Transportation Office and knock on their doors and appeal on them to surrender or dismantle their unauthorized plates and banned gadgets.
Fajardo ordered the crackdown on motor vehicle owners using banned sirens and blinkers and illegal commemorative plates in the aftermath of an incident wherein a road rage suspect used an SUV with the plate no. ‘8,’
Being targeted by the HPG-LTO operation are owners of cars and SUVs using already expired commemorative plates issued during special events and those using plates reserved only for members of the Cabinet, Congress, Judiciary and the PNP and Armed Forces chiefs.
Also targeted are motor vehicles and motorcycle owners who continue to use banned sirens and blinkers as well as blinding LED lights which have been the object of numerous complaints from the motoring public.
Officers manning HPG checkpoints will accost the violators and confiscate their illegal plates and gadgets. PNP-HPG agents are also instructed to accost motor vehicle and motorcycle drivers and owners using blinding LED lights, strobe lights, blinkers, horns and sirens as well as motorbike drivers using open pipes/mufflers.
Under Presidential Decree 96, only marked vehicles designated for the use of the PNP, Presidential Security Group, Armed Forces, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Office, Bureau of Fire Protection and hospital ambulances can be fitted with sirens, bells, horns or similar gadgets. As for government officials, only the President, Vice President, Senate President, House Speaker, and Chief Justice are afforded the same privilege.
Fajardo said violators will cost them as much as P5,000 in fines apart from having their unauthorized plates and gadgets seized.
Last week, police arrested Jojo Valerio, a band member identified as the driver of an SUV with plate no. ‘8’ that got involved in 2 road rage incidents during an operation in a Tarlac City bar.
The suspect was positively identified by Jesusito Palma, a resident of Angeles City as the man who punched him in the face around 1:30 a.m. before escaping in an FJ Cruiser with an ‘8’ license plate.
Valerio was charged with serious physical injuries, grave threat, usurpation of authority and violation of Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code of the Philippines but has been on bail since then.
Last Friday morning, PNP-HPG agents intercepted Valerio’s SUV sporting the protocol plate no. ‘8’ when it got involved in two road rage incidents, However, it’s 8’ plate has been removed and the vehicle painted with another color in an apparent attempt to conceal its identify, officials said.
The Toyota FJ Cruiser‘s mud guard and roof were already covered with white sticker and with plate no. AVA 8781 when it was intercepted along Quirino Highway in Quezon City.
Due to the incident, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the recall of all protocol ‘8’ plates’ issued during the previous Congresses starting in the 16th Congress.