LTO suspends apprehension for unregistered top boxes, mulls lowering PHP 5K fine

The guidelines for the use of top boxes and saddle bags on motorcycles have been around since an LTO Memo from March 15, 2016. With the advent of delivery and courier services, a lot of these boxes – “certified” or otherwise makeshift – have made their way to the rear of a lot of motorcycles.

The main problem that the LTO is facing is the fact that not everyone is aware of the said guidelines and that these boxes are supposed to meet certain standards and must be registered. A hefty fine awaits those found in violation and the agency hit the pause button on apprehensions and decided to re-study the Memo.

Rules governing top box and saddle bags being reassessed by LTO

Top Box Lto Inline 02 Min Min

Photo: LTO

There’s not much of a problem if a top box has been purchased from an authorized vendor, meaning their wares are DTI-approved. These boxes don’t even need to be registered since they were built specifically with motorcycle use (securely attached and have a maximum capacity of 2 full-face helmets) and road safety in mind. But what of those with custom-made boxes?

The guidelines state that they must be securely attached to the motorcycle, must not exceed 2 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft dimensions, must not impede or obstruct the rider’s view of the road from their side mirrors, and must be registered for a PHP 100 fee. This is where it got a bit tricky.

Seeing as top boxes’ sizes and quality (read: quality, sturdy brackets, for starters) may differ, and the fact that some if not most have not been registered with the LTO, a rider will be fined a significant PHP 5,000 fine if found in violation.

Top Box Lto Main 00 Min Min

Of course, the aforementioned fine drew the shock and ire of those who have been apprehended previously. It’s these motorcyclists’ complaints that urged the LTO to hit the pause button on apprehensions to reassess and restudy the guidelines and mull over a possible lowering of the penalty amount. This applies to both top boxes and saddle bags.

“The issue of hefty fines is one of the aspects of the March 2016 memorandum that is under review. Rest assured that we will do our best to come up with fines that are more affordable and practical and keep it attuned to the times,”- Teofilo Guadiz III, LTO Chief Assistant Secretary

Top Box Lto Inline 04 Min Min

In the same notice, the LTO continues to urge motorcycle riders to register their top boxes and/or saddle bags to “ensure that they are up to regulations and to ensure personal and others’ safety (sic)”.

In this light, those who have access to the existing LTO memo and find that their top boxes warrant registration, then they should be registered. For those who use top boxes that do not meet specifications, perhaps it’s time to remedy that. Do remember that despite a temporary halt on apprehensions, the Memo exists and still applies until such time the LTO has amended it, if at all.

Again, you can find the LTO memo here. PHP 100 may be a lot of money for most, but the fact remains that we are still bound by existing laws; laws that are in place to ensure everyone’s safety. For now, let’s be thankful that the shockingly high fine is being looked into and may even be lessened. If it all goes south, it’s best that you have proper documentation that your top box or saddle bag is legit and registered.

PHP 100 is still better than PHP 5,000, if they decide to stick to the current guidelines, fines, and decide to start apprehending motorcycles with custom-built top boxes again, right?

Mikko Juangco
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