Land Transportation Office

Corruption red flag, Deputy Speaker Rodriguez says of new LTO rule 

Herbie Gomez
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez warns that the new rule may become a breeding ground for corruption

Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez has flagged a new Land Transportation Office (LTO) rule that requires people applying and seeking to renew driving licenses to show certificates of completion of a comprehensive education course from government-accredited driving schools.

The Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative, who has filed a House resolution and a bill seeking to stop the LTO from implementing its Comprehensive Driver’s Education (CDE) requirement, called the new scheme a red flag of corruption.

Rodriguez cautioned on Saturday, November 6, that the CDE would be another breeding ground for corruption, starting with the accreditation of private driving schools by the LTO.

“The LTO personnel will open and own these schools. Drivers renewing their [licenses] may just pay the schools to get the certificates without taking the course, in collusion with the LTO. So, nothing will happen. There will be no real drivers’ education,” he told Rappler.

Rodriguez also questioned the LTO’s timing in implementing the CDE rule on drivers, saying the last thing the government should be doing at this time of public health and economic crises is to force people to pay LTO-accredited driving schools and spend hours listening to lectures.

“This is a double whammy. People would rather look for money so they could bring food home. What the LTO wants to do is make them unproductive during certain times,” he said.

Rodriguez added, “This will impose an unnecessary burden and inflict untold hardships on our driving public especially at this time of the pandemic.”

A public transportation group in Cagayan de Oro frowned on the LTO’s new requirement, calling it an additional layer of red tape.

Securing the CDE certification would cost each driver between P3,000 and P5,000, according to Joel Gabatan, coordinator for northern Mindanao of the National Confederation of Transport Unions (NCTU).

Gabatan’s group has filed a petition before the LTO to oppose the new rule.

“It’s okay if it’s going to be offered for free, but we think it is not going to be, and it will eat much of the drivers’ time and inconvenience a lot of people,” Gabatan said.

The CDE seminar would take hours to take and materials are available with the LTO for free but given the number of applicants and limited spaces in the LTO, the tendency is for drivers to secure the certificates from the accredited driving schools, he said.

In the case of Cagayan de Oro, the LTO’s drivers’ education and examination center “is a very small room.”

“That is not very convenient. We have pointed this out with LTO,” Gabatan said.

Heavy equipment driver Jay Calma said it was unfair that all drivers would be made to undergo refreshers just because there were others who were undisciplined on the roads.

Calma said he has years of driving experience, and received in-house training on heavy equipment use.

“The CDE is going to be a burden to take,” Calma said.

Danilo Delizo, a taxi driver, said the LTO failed to consider that professional drivers would lose a day’s earnings by just attending the CDE course, and that many of them don’t have extra money for a refresher course.

“Many of us have been driving for decades, and there is really nothing new with our traffic rules. They should instead focus on those caught violating traffic rules,” Delizo said.

Rodriguez said the resolution he authored seeks to immediately stop the LTO from implementing the CDE requirement.

He said House Bill No. 10430 would rid the Land Transportation and Traffic Code of a provision invoked by the LTO in justifying its new CDE requirement.

Rodriguez said the LTO took Section 23 of Republic Act No. 10930 out of context to impose the CDE requirement.

“It really has no legal basis. There is no provision in the law which explicitly states that a certification for a CDE is required for renewing a driver’s license. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the spring cannot rise higher than its source, and that implementing rules must conform to the language of the law. What we will do is remove the provisions that have been causing this confusion,” he said. – Rappler.com