UNAUTHORIZED use of sirens and blinkers and superimposition of registered plates with commemorative plates will no longer be tolerated by the Department of Transportation and Communication.

Despite the enactment of Presidential Decree (PD) 96 during the term of the late President Ferdinand Marcos which bans the use, attachment of bells, sirens, horns, whistles or similar gadgets and dome lights or flashing lights or blinkers, many private individuals still brave apprehension.

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Department of Transportation and Communication Regional Director Federico Mandapat Jr. said that before President Benigno Aquino III’s inaugural speech, which restated the unlawful use of sirens (locally called wang-wang), the agency has been confiscating mostly from private individuals using the devices provided for use of specific agencies and individuals only.

Mandapat said the department is now intensifying efforts to catch violators of this law, which only allows vehicles of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Fire Protection and Land Transportation Office to use sirens and blinkers.

He added PD 96 was further upheld by the agency’s memorandum circular, which also exempts hospital ambulances from the ban of the use of sirens.

Moreover, amendment of PD 96 also stated only the President, Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker of the House Representatives and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are allowed to use such devices.

During Aquino’s inaugural speech last week, he lambasted those who unlawfully use sirens to pull over other vehicles during traffic hours.

Aquino also vowed despite being allowed the use of sirens he wouldn’t use them except during emergencies to uphold his corrupt-free governance.

Since then, operatives of the Land Transportation Office have confiscated blinkers and sirens from four private vehicle owners.

“All that we have confiscated are from private vehicle owners who will also be fined P15,000. In the original version of PD violators are only fined P500,” Mandapat said.

Second time violators and subsequent offenses may lead to six months imprisonment and warnings and then confiscation of motor vehicle registration, Mandapat added.

Since President Aquino’s speech, the Highway Patrol Group, the Traffic Management Branch of the Baguio City Police Office and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) have been intensifying their crackdown against the use of wang-wang.

Meanwhile, motor vehicle owners with commemorative plates superimposed on regular registration plates Mandapat also reiterated are also violating the Land Transportation Code.

“The mere superimposition of the commemorative plates or centennial plates over regular plates is already a violation,” Mandapat said.

Aside from protocol plates given to the President up to legislators and magistrates of the courts, he said, these vanity plates are not allowed to be superimposed or placed the regular registered plates.

“These vanity plates like councilor, PNPA (Philippine National Police Academy), PMA (Philippine Military Academy), lawyer, doctor or other commemorative plates should not be allowed to be superimposed or as a replacement to regular registered plates,” Mandapat said.

He added, based on reports of his field officers, there are other enterprising individuals who are saying that once you buy their commemorative plates, the motor vehicle owners using the vanity plates will not be confiscated by the LTO or the police.

Mandapat said these are lies because anybody as long as they violate land transport circulars, traffic rules and regulations will be enforced by the LTO.

So far, since their intensified apprehensions of vanity plate violators last January, Mandapat said they have already apprehended and fined P1,500 to more than 40 vehicle owners who were luckily waived of their seminar with the transportation agency.

Also, concentrated effort in the apprehension of colorum violators have already turned out more than 600 vehicles since the start of the year mostly unregistered for public conveyance with green plates, said Mandapat.

During their recent operation in Bontoc, Mountain province, Mandapat said they have also apprehended more than 100 public utility vehicles there which were either unregistered or operating without franchises. (JM Agreda)