Department of Transportation

LTO extends validity of drivers licenses ahead of impending shortage

Lance Spencer Yu

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LTO extends validity of drivers licenses ahead of impending shortage

PAPER LICENSE. LTO chief Jay Art Tugade shows media a driver's license printed on paper.

Land Transportation Office video press conference screenshot

(1ST UPDATE) Temporary driver’s licenses printed on paper will be issued while the agency works out procurement issues for their plastic cards

MANILA, Philippines –Amid the looming shortage of plastic driver’s license cards, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) extended the validity of licenses expiring on April 24.

According to a memorandum released by the agency on Friday, April 21, these licenses will have their validity extended until October 31, or as soon as DOTr is able to procure and the winning bidder successfully delivers the license cards, whichever comes first. All remaining driver’s license cards will also be reserved for OFWs.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and LTO have been pointing fingers at each other for the current shortage of plastic driver’s license cards, which has already forced the LTO to resort to issuing paper-based temporary licenses.

The LTO has estimated that it only has around 147,000 plastic cards left – just enough to last until the end of April for LTO offices nationwide. 

To address this, the DOTr is considering purchasing part of the total volume of license cards that the LTO needs even before the procurement’s terms of reference is fully evaluated by the DOTr.

“DOTr hopes to procure enough license cards before supply runs out and while the TOR [Terms of Reference] is being remedied so the bidding for supply of license cards can proceed,” the department said in a statement on Thursday, April 20.

According to the DOTr, they are already discussing with the Department of Budget and Management ways “to expedite the purchase of the license cards, after LTO’s failure to undertake early procurement activities in compliance with existing rules.”

But earlier on Thursday, LTO chief Jose Arturo “Jay Art” Tugade painted a different picture, saying that a department order issued by the DOTr stopped them from procuring the cards on time.

“LTO was ready to procure by December. However, noong lumabas ‘yung SO on January (when the special order came out in January), we were instructed, basically, to stop all procurement activities because all procurement activities would now have to be conducted by DOTr Central,” Tugade said in a press conference on Thursday.

Tugade said that one of his first orders upon assuming the position was to conduct an inventory of driver’s licenses and license plates. According to him, as early as November, the LTO had already identified the level of inventory of plastic cards to be “critical.”

“Had we been able to continue with our procurement activities, we would have sufficient plastic cards by now,” he added.

Currently, the procurement process for the much-needed plastic cards is expected to drag on. The submission of bids was recently extended for another 30 days, from April 24 to May 24. After this, the timeline would still include the bid opening, post-qualification, notice of award, proof of concept, notice to proceed, and the actual lead time for manufacturing the cards.

(READ: No more periodic medical exam for driver’s license holders – LTO)

Paper license

The LTO is already running out of plastic driver’s license cards in parts of the country.

“As of today, meron na po tayong mga office na po na wala na pong mga driver’s license,” Tugade said. “Meron pong mga nagrerenew ng lisensya at nag-aapply ng lisensya na hindi po namin mabigyan, sa ngayon, ng plastic cards.”

(As of today, some offices no longer have driver’s licenses. We can’t give plastic cards to some of the people who are applying for and renewing their licenses.)

In the meantime, the LTO is giving out temporary driver’s licenses printed on paper. The paper will bear the official receipt of their driver’s license, which contains a unique QR code that law enforcers can scan to authenticate the document in the event that the license holder is apprehended.

The LTO has set aside a budget of P249 million for 5.2 million plastic cards for this year. The agency confirmed that this could mean as many as 5.2 million motorists stand to face delays as the procurement and release of plastic driver’s license cards stretches on.

The LTO has faced this issue before. In 2016, the agency piled up millions in backlogged plastic license cards before finally securing a deal with a plastic card provider.

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.