LTO: Command center for motorcycle crimes up by June

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20) — A command center aimed at helping prevent and investigate motorcycle crimes may be operational by mid-June, according to the Land Transportation Office.

During the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's hearing on the implementation of the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, LTO chief Asec. Edgar Galvante said the construction of a command center is ongoing and will likely be finished by June 18.

"Part of the command center will be the motor vehicle recognition system, your honor. So that from the images captured by CCTV, this can help us establish the identity of the owner of the involved motorcycle," Galvante told the panel's chairman, Senator Richard Gordon.

Under Republic Act No. 11235 or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, the LTO and the Philippine National Police should establish a joint operations and control center "that shall be operational and accessible real-time, twenty four (24) hours a day and seven (7) days a week."

Those who lost their plates or had their motorcycles stolen could report directly through the center. The LTO and the PNP's Highway Patrol Group shall also establish a hotline to specifically address concerns related to crimes committed by motorcycle-riding suspects.

Gordon pointed out how stolen vehicles are usually used in the commission of crimes. This year alone, 108 individuals have been victimized by riding-in-tandem suspects, Gordon said, citing news reports. At least 84 have died, he added.

Data from the Philippine National Police showed a total of 19,277 motorcycle crimes from 2016 until January 31 of this year. A third or 7,123 of these are murder cases.

"Will the secretary of LTO please tell me, when are you going to save people's lives by opening up the operations center?" Gordon asked.

Galvante said it's being constructed, and what the LTO has for now is a temporary alarm system. Gordon said he has not heard of it and demanded that LTO comply with the law and promptly establish the command center.

When pressed for a date, Galvante said the target completion is on June 18. Gordon said he plans to summon LTO officials to another hearing on June 19 or 20 to see if they have made good on their word.

It was the sixth Senate hearing on supposed failures to properly implement the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act. Gordon again lamented the continued delay in the release of bigger and more readable license plates which could deter crimes or aid in criminal investigations. He said he's ready to draft the committee report after Tuesday's hearing.

Gordon earlier said his committee was preparing to recommend graft and plunder charges against former and current officials of the LTO and the Department of Transportation over the delay.