House panel approves in principle bill on 5-year driver's license
MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on transportation on Wednesday, May 3, approved in principle the proposed measure to extend the validity of drivers' licenses to 5 years.
Catanduanes Representative Cesar Sarmiento, House panel chair, said that the proposed measure to extend the validity of professional and non-professional licenses from 3 to 5 years was "approved in principle" during a hearing on Wednesday, and was referred to a technical working group.
The proposed bill seeks to amend Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, which currently sets the validity of a driver's license to 3 years.
During the hearing, Land Transportation Office chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante said the LTO supports the proposal.
Galvante told the panel that the LTO, in fact, has been issuing licenses valid for 5 years since October 2016, but only in the form of receipts that serve as temporary licenses. The LTO will start issuing plastic license cards valid for 5 years by the end of 2017, he added.
"Starting October 11, the LTO has been issuing a 5-year-validity license. Although the cards aren’t available yet, the issued receipts serve as a temporary license. This is ongoing. Those who are renewing their licenses [also] receive their 5-year license [but] only with a receipt. By the end of the year, we will be able to issue the plastic cards," Galvante said.
He said the LTO aims to issue licenses valid for 5 years in other regions by early 2018.
During the hearing, Galvante cited laws that provide legal basis for the extended validity – the Administrative Code and Batas Pambansa 398.
Sarmiento asked Galvante about what LTO has done to ensure the "quality" of its drivers' licenses, especially if these would be valid for 5 years.
“Gaano ba katino ang pagbigay ng lisensya? We have been hearing sad stories na kahit isa lang ang mata o paa, nabibigyan pa rin ng lisensiya (How strict is the licensing process? We have been hearing stories of people with only an eye or foot and still given a license). Everytime we are hearing accidents it is either the LTO or LTFRB,”the committee chairman said.
Galvante shared the LTO's plan to implement a new system of written and practical licensing examinations.
“Example, sa truck drivers, dapat ang questions ay nagtutugma sa capacity ng pagdrive ng truck. Hindi irregardless sa kung anong dinadrive na vehicle. Aaminin po natin, wala tyong facilities, wala tayong pag-examin sa mga truck. We are hoping to get a simulator to do it for us.” he said.
(An example would be for the truck drivers, the questions for them should be able to check their capacity to drive a truck. It shouldn’t be regardless of the vehicle. We admit that we don’t have the facilities for the examination. We are hoping to get a simulator to do it for us)
The LTO also plans to coordinate with driving schools to establish a basic standard for program instruction and the number of hours to ensure that only capable and responsible drivers qualify for a license.
The issue of public utility drivers as repeated violators was also brought up during the hearing.
There had been cases when drivers with repeated violations or penalties would get new licenses under different names or when they transfer to another bus company. To address this, there was a recommendation to release to the public blacklisted public utility drivers, to keep bus companies from hiring these drivers.
Antipolo 2nd District Representative Romeo Acop, one of the authors of the proposed measure, said in a statement that the proposed extension is also in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address.
Proponents of the measure said that the longer validity of licenses supports the government’s campaign against red tape and is seen to reduce irregularities during applications and renewals at the LTO. (READ: Corruption at LTO, LTFRB: Unfit drivers, vehicles on the road)
The measure, however, will also lead to lower government revenues. – With a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com
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