Senate of the Philippines

Tulfo urges review of eye check policy in getting driver’s license

Bonz Magsambol

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Tulfo urges review of eye check policy in getting driver’s license

LAWMAKER. Senator Raffy Tulfo during a media conference on January 30, 2023.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

'Mayroon po mga fixer, taga pirma. Magbigay ka lang ng P500 off you go,' says Senator Raffy Tulfo

MANILA, Philippines – Saying that it is a source of corruption at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and an added burden to applicants, Senator Raffy Tulfo on Thursday, June 8, urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to review its policy on eye check in getting a driver’s license.

“Marami pong eye clinic dyan sa paligid ng LTO na doon pinapapunta ‘yung mga gusto po kumuha ng kanilang driver’s license. Most of these eye clinics are fly by nights at binisita ko po ang ilan sa kanila, wala pong doctor doon, wala rin instrumento. Mayroon po mga fixer, taga pirma. Magbigay ka lang ng P500 off you go,” Tulfo said during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on alleged corruption at LTO.

(There are a lot of eye clinics around LTO where applicants are told to go. Most of these eye clinics are fly by nights, and I visited some of them, there are no doctors, no instruments. There are fixers who sign the document. You give P5,000 then you’re off to go.)

The Senator argued that the eye check requirement was “redundant” since those applying for driver’s licenses are required to enroll in driving schools. From there, their eyes are also checked. (READ: LTO to continue setting driving course fees despite driving school protests)

“Nagpupunta po sila sa driving school. Doon palang po sa driving schools, sila po ay pinagmamaneho ng sasakyan ,so ibig sabihin po ay okay ang kanilang mata bago sila makapag exam sa LTO for their drivers’ license,” he said.

(They enroll in driving schools. There, they’re being trained to drive so that means their eyes are also being checked before they take the eye exam at the LTO for their driver’s license.)

Tulfo urges review of eye check policy in getting driver’s license

In response, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista that they are studying the possibility of removing this requirement but said that under the law, eye and medical certificates are required to get a driver’s license.

Unconvinced Tulfo pressed further, saying that why can’t the LTO just assign an eye specialist in its offices since the task will be just to make sure that applicants can read the Snellen chart. The eye check fee should already be covered in the driver’s license fee, he said.

The Senator said that he received information that this kind of “corruption scheme” is rampant in LTO offices.

“Puwede naman po siguro na isang nurse o doctor na siya na ang magpapabasa ng mga letra. At kapag nakita po na kaya nang basahın, let it go para di na kailangan magbayad ng P500 kasama na po dapat ‘yan sa pag register or renew nyo ng driver’s license,” Tulfo pointed out.

(Maybe a nurse and a doctor stationed at LTO offices can ask applicants to read letters. And when they see that applicants cam read them, there’s no need to pay P500 which should already be covered when you register or renew for a driver’s license.)

Bautista agreed with Tulfo’s suggestion. He said that the DOTr has been in touch with LTO officials regarding the matter.

“In fact we had a meeting kanina with some LTO (officials). Kung babasahin mo lang naman ang mga letters (If the task is only to read letters), we don’t need an external doctors but for now we have to comply with the requirements by the law,” he said.

All in all, the driver’s license application will cost an applicant roughly P1,500. The LTO charges P585 for the license fee, P100 for the application fee for driver’s license applications as of 2023. This, however, doesn’t t include the costs of the medical exam, which is around P500, and vehicle rental for the actual driving exam at around P200.

On top of it, applicants need to enroll in a driving school. This would cost them P1,000 for a theoretical driving course and P4,000 (light vehicles) for a practical driving course before they could apply for a driver’s license. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.