Lawmaker grills LTO over driver’s license cards contract

Mara Cepeda
Lawmaker grills LTO over driver’s license cards contract
LTO chief Edgar Galvante says the agency is entering a separate contract for cards valid up to 5 years because they are adding a security feature to the current ones

MANILA, Philippines – A congressman questioned the need for the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to have a separate contract for driver’s license cards with a 5-year validity, saying it could have been combined with an existing contract.

Tarlac 3rd District Representative Noel Villanueva said that just expanding the current contract – which is for driver’s license cards that are valid for 3 years – could lessen government expenses. 

Hindi ba puwedeng pag-isahin na lang iyan? Hindi ba gastos sa gobyerno na merong 3 years at may 5 years pa na contract? (Can’t we combine them? Isn’t it an added cost to government that we have contracts for 3 years and 5 years?) Can’t it be done in a single contract?” Villanueva asked during the House transportation committee hearing on Wednesday, January 18.

LTO Chairman Edgar Galvante explained they separated the two contracts because a new security feature would be added to the 5-years valid driver’s license cards. (READ: Do you know how to apply for a driver’s license?

“We are thinking of incorporating a chip on the card itself. And in terms of quality, it has polycarbonate material which is more durable,” said Galvante.

There is currently a 3-million backlog in the distribution of the 3-years valid driver’s license cards. The LTO began addressing this in December 2016, aiming to distribute around 700,000 driver’s license cards at the time.

The backlog stemmed from a 2013 controversy involving card producer Amalgamated Motors Philippines Incorporated (AMPI). The Commission on Audit (COA) found that there was no legal basis for AMPI to continue making the cards, as its contract with the LTO expired in 2006.

COA affirmed its findings last October, and asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the alleged irregularities. 

The controversy led to a shortage in driver’s license cards. Motorists had to use their receipts from the LTO as temporary licenses, stamped only with a validity period. 

How much will it cost? 

On Wednesday, Villanueva also asked the LTO how much it needs to print the 5-years valid driver’s license cards. 

Galvante said they would be spending P187.08 million, but Villanueva disagreed. 

“The backlog plus the 5-year validity license card will cost the project more than P800 million,” he said. 

The lawmaker then suggested that once the LTO completely addresses its backlog on the 3-years valid driver’s license cards, the agency should do away with its current system of contracting. 

Itong sistemang ito, ‘di ba magiging 5 years na tayo? Bakit kelangan pang i-direct contract iyong cards with 3-year validity period? Nakapaghintay naman na tayo ng matagal, eh ‘di gawin na lahat na 5-year period iyan.  Tingin ko makakatipid pa ang gobyerno,” said Villanueva. 

(This system, aren’t we going to resort to 5 years soon? Why do we need to have a direct contract for the cards with 3-year validity period? We already waited this long, let’s just turn all of the cards’ validity to 5 years. I think the government would be able to save more.) – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.