Getting driver’s license ‘costly, burdensome’ for newbies | Inquirer News

Getting driver’s license ‘costly, burdensome’ for newbies

/ 04:30 AM February 22, 2023

Traffic on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. STORY: Getting driver’s license ‘costly, burdensome’ for newbies

CITY DRIVING | New drivers have to learn to be patient as they endure heavy traffic, especially in Metro Manila and other major urban centers, like this gridlock on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City in July 2022. (File photo by NIÑO JESUS ORBETA / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — Maria Luz Dabu, a government employee, spent P11,335 to get a driver’s license, which she finally received in March 2022.

Dabu first applied for a student permit that required her to enroll in a private driving school for a five-hour theoretical driving course (TDC) worth P2,500.


Submitting a permit showing she passed the exam, she paid P100 in application fee and P150 in student permit fee to the Land Transportation Office (LTO). She also submitted a medical certificate that cost her P500.


Months later, she converted the student permit to a nonprofessional driver’s license, which is good for five years. This entailed her paying P6,800 when she enrolled for the mandatory eight-hour practical driving course (PDC) in a driving school and P600 for a medical certificate. To the LTO, she paid an application fee of P100 and a license fee of P585.

“Para raw disiplinado sa driving (So there’s discipline in driving),” Dabu told the Inquirer on Monday when asked what the LTO-accredited instructor told her about why she was required to take the TDC and PDC.

The cost of getting a driver’s license in the country now is 15 times higher than the P585 that the LTO charges for a license fee, prompting Pampanga Rep. Anna York Bondoc to file House Resolution No. 751 asking Congress to investigate what caused the “excessive” cost of a driver’s license in the Philippines.

Bondoc even described the country’s driver’s license as “golden,” referring to the high cost of securing one.


This, she said, “impacts and exacts financial hardship and burden upon 50 million Filipinos who are below the age of 25 years old and driving for the first time.”In other cases, some had to shell out P9,500 early this month to get a driver’s license, as experienced by three workers in a flower shop. The rates vary, at times being higher.

“This is anti-poor,” said Bondoc, a doctor, in an interview on Feb. 17, adding that she learned the rates when she helped three employees in her flower shop get their licenses.


The cost, she found out, was “bloated “by the amounts charged by the driving school for the TDC and PDC.

“Driving schools are not the problem. The responsible ones teach safe driving for road safety,” said Eugene Ponio, manager of Driving Masters and an elected councilor in Guagua town in Pampanga.

When his parents began the school in this city in 1986, Driving Masters and Lorraine were the only driving schools in Pampanga.

Safety concerns

“Back then, the PDC was not mandatory yet, but parents enrolled their children in our school so that they could drive safely. The standard of teaching was like Ateneo’s, if I may say,” Ponio said on Monday.

On the LTO’s list as of Feb. 15, at least 32 driving schools now operate in the province out of the 144 in Central Luzon region.

As of Monday, Driving Masters charges P500 for the in-person TDC.The LTO-accredited online TDC providers collect P900 to P1,200, with students returning to the driving school to get the final assessment and certificate. The LTO gives free final assessments, but schedules take time to get, Ponio said.

In Driving Masters, the PDC’s actual driving lessons for a total of eight hours amount to P4,950 (manual vehicle), P6,400 (automatic car) and P6,900 (10 hours of a combination of driving manual and automatic cars).

Operating costs

The fees fetch P3,800 for motorcycle or tricycle driving lessons for beginners, P2,800 for those with experience, P7,500 for a combination of manual car and motorcycle, and P8,900 for a combination of automatic car and motorcycle. These, Ponio said, come with a free review for the nonprofessional exam.

According to him, the rates are determined by the costs incurred by the driving school.

In the driving lessons, the company fields its own vehicle with double brakes and cameras.Per the LTO’s rules, the vehicles are retired after five years of use, Ponio said, noting that his company shoulders the fuel and wage of the LTO-accredited instructor.

Excluding vehicle maintenance, office and garage rental, as well as local taxes, Ponio said the average cost of giving a driving lesson amounts to a minimum of P562 per hour.

He said the tough competition drives some schools to charge less, with operators policing their ranks through the Philippine Association of LTO-Accredited Driving Schools Inc.

The LTO used to do the driving exams at no cost until 2016 when driving schools were engaged to educate drivers. In the current setup, the LTO accredits the school but does not regulate the fees, according to an Inquirer source at the agency.

Online automotive news portal Philcarnews said a traffic safety investigation in 2017 had uncovered the “failure of the driver’s license test of half of the country’s population.”

“The cause of this situation is that many people choose the wrong or low-quality training institutions,” it added.


Frauds do occur. In January, the LTO in Central Visayas reported suspending a driving school and an instructor for an alleged fraudulent issuance of TDC certificates.

Fixers approach the school asking them to issue PDC certificates to clients who skip driving lessons, according to two Inquirer sources.

Or the connivance could be the other way around. The grease money is higher, but the school stands to lose more when the accreditation is suspended or terminated.

In November 2021, some senators questioned the requirement of having to undergo a driving course before a driver’s license could be issued. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez then urged the LTO to scrap the requirement, which could be “another source of red tape and harassment.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

The LTO conducts free TDCs through barangay caravans held at the request of local officials. Last December, the LTO relaunched its Driver’s Education Center, which provides training for student drivers who cannot afford regular driving schools.


Why does it cost P9,500 to get a driver’s license? lawmaker asks

Driver’s license backlog blamed on defective engravers

Poe: More LTO offices, licensing centers to assure faster driver’s license issuance

TAGS: Driver’s License, Land Transportation Office

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.