By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Almost a month since the Supreme Court barred with a “status quo ante order” the implementation of the RFID project by the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the LTO has complied only by stopping the implementation mid-January. It has yet to refund the 90,000 motorists who had been forced to purchase RFID tags prior to the SC order.
“The Supreme Court has clearly ordered a return to the situation prevailing before the implementation of the RFID project. In short, the high court has also ordered a refund, because the LTO did not use to collect money for RFID,” said George San Mateo, secretary general of Piston (United Association of Drivers and Operators Nationwide). The Supreme Court’s spokesman, Midas Marquez, also said as much a day after the SC issued the status quo ante order against the RFID scheme.
A hundred members of Piston and the Alliance of Private Motorists against RFID marched from Edsa-Kamias to picket the offices of LTO in East Avenue last Wednesday to press for this demand. They are questioning the LTO’s seeming reluctance to refund the motorists and the LTO officers’ conflicting statements about the status of the money.
The LTO chief, Arturo Lomibao, said they would find it difficult to refund the money because VAT collections from the RFID had been exacted from it. The LTO media officer, Jason Salvador, said in a TV interview that the collections from RFID are still “intact.”
“We can’t help but suspect that the LTO and Stradcom may have spent or pocketed already the more than P31.5 million (US$ 678,143) they have collected on RFID tags alone,” San Mateo said in their rally in front of the LTO. From the start, Piston had criticized the RFID scheme as “nothing but a money-making scheme.”
“This is legalized stealing because it even came with a receipt,” said Danny Oracion, president of Piston’s association of drivers and operators in Baclaran, Sucat and Parañaque.
Piston vowed that they would intensify their protest actions against the LTO’s money-making schemes. (Bulatlat.com)