THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) is urging the public to support the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices as one way to stop the illegal use of vehicles and extortion by traffic enforcers.

LTO 7 Assistant Regional Director Edgar Catarongan said that only those who have something to hide will oppose this project of the LTO and Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

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The LTO’s attempt to win support for the program comes amid opposition from transport groups in Metro Manila, like Piston, over the additional cost vehicle owners must face.

If a crime investigator want to find out the background of a vehicle used in a crime, all he has to do is approach an LTO operative who is authorized to carry a RFID tag reader, Catarongan said.

The equipment can access data on a vehicle within 12 meters, including its present and previous registered owners.

Catarongan explained that colorum or unauthorized vehicles, mostly taxis and passenger jeepneys, will stand out.

These cannot be issued RFID devices in the absence of a valid franchise or certificate of public conveyance.

Assistant Secretary Arturo Lomibao, the LTO chief, visited the various LTO offices in Cebu the other day to monitor the implementation of the RFID program.

Vehicles with plate numbers ending in one and two must secure an RFID tag upon the renewal of their vehicle registration in January and February 2010, respectively, Lomibao said.

By March, the LTO operations division will start inspecting the vehicles and those found without RFID tags will be impounded.

LTO personnel who register or renew the registration of vehicles without issuing the appropriate RFID tags will be punished.

He added that with RFID, a vehicle owner can no longer use fake registration papers, because the system itself will reveal each vehicle’s background, on the spot.