Interior Secretary Abalos Vows to Dismantle License Plate Syndicate

DILG Secretary Benjamin 'Benhur' Abalos Jr., Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Vigor D. Mendoza 2nd, and Renante G. Militante of the LTO Intelligence and Investigation Division present to the media on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, three LTO employees suspected of stealing license plates from the agency’s plant in Quezon City. PHOTOS BY ISMAEL DE JUAN
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Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos has made a strong commitment to completely dismantle the syndicate involved in the theft of license plates within the Land Transportation Office (LTO). In a stern warning to the remaining members and masterminds of the ring, Abalos declared, “Surrender now because wherever you may hide, we will hunt you down.”

This warning comes in the wake of the recent arrest of three LTO personnel caught red-handed stealing five pairs of license plates from the agency’s plate-making plant in Quezon City. Among the suspects were two embossers working at the facility, while the third was a warehouse staff member. The operation leading to their arrest was carried out jointly by the LTO and the Special Projects Group of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The suspects will face charges of qualified theft under Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code, as well as the illegal production of LTO plate numbers under Section 31 of Republic Act 4136. Meanwhile, a manhunt is underway for another LTO employee who allegedly served as the team leader.

Secretary Abalos has emphasized that an ongoing investigation is in progress to uncover the full extent of the syndicate’s operations and identify their accomplices, including the mastermind who is still at large. Preliminary findings suggest that the suspects are involved in a scheme related to newly acquired motor vehicles financed through loans.

The modus operandi of the syndicate involves the head acquiring a vehicle through financing and subsequently selling it illegally using forged receipts and replicated plates obtained from their contact within the LTO. These counterfeit plates are sold for a hefty sum of P20,000 per pair.

Secretary Abalos expressed confidence in the strength of the evidence gathered so far by the LTO Intelligence Division and the DILG Special Projects Group. He believes that they have an airtight case against the suspects. Additionally, he has instructed the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to collaborate with LTO Chief Assistant Secretary Vigor Mendoza 2nd in recovering previously stolen plates.

To protect the public from falling victim to this syndicate, Abalos advises individuals to verify the validity of QR codes embedded in LTO plate numbers before making any vehicle purchases. By checking with the LTO, potential buyers can ensure that the plates are legitimate and not part of the illegal activities of the syndicate.

In conclusion, Secretary Abalos is determined to eradicate this license plate theft syndicate, and he urges the remaining members and masterminds to surrender. With ongoing investigations and the collaboration of various government agencies, the authorities are confident in their ability to bring the culprits to justice and restore the integrity of the LTO’s license plate production process. The public is encouraged to remain vigilant and cooperate with law enforcement to help put an end to this criminal activity.

Source: The Manila Times

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