Paper-based licenses to save LTO’s day in the face of card shortages
MANILA, Philippines — The supply of plastic cards for driver’s licenses is running low, the head of the Land of Transportation Office (LTO) disclosed Thursday, saying the permits will just be printed on paper soon.
LTO chief Jose Arturo Tugade said they are looking at rolling out temporary driver’s license documents printed on the back of official receipts as a solution to the problem.
He noted that LTO offices across the country are left with an inventory of 147,000 driver’s license cards.
“Ang forecast ng LTO is completely mauubos iyong inventory on hand ng mga office by the last week of April,” Tugade said in a news conference.
(The LTO forecasts that our offices will completely run out of on-hand inventory by the last week of April.)
“The solution is to use a temporary driver’s license document. We will be using paper for the temporary driver’s license. We will be printing the official receipt of the driver’s license. And on the official receipt of the driver’s license, there will be a unique QR code… That is one way for the law enforcers to validate whether or not the official receipt is legitimate,” he then explained, speaking partly in Filipino.
Tugade said driver’s license holders may take a photo of their permit’s printout but should ensure the QR code can be clearly scanned for verification.
According to the LTO chief, the agency knew as early as November 2022 that the inventory of cards for driver’s licenses was already at a “critical level.”
He said the LTO was already prepared to procure additional supply sometime in January. But “we received a department order. [It] instructed us that all procurement involving P50 million and above should be conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Central Office,” he added.
The cost of purchasing 5.2 million new cards for driver’s licenses is pegged at P249 million, Tugade noted.
“Had we been able to continue with our procurement activities, we would have sufficient plastic cards,” he said.
He also said the LTO had repeatedly sought to have the department order reconsidered, stressing the urgent need to procure a fresh batch of plastic cards. The request, however, was not granted.
“We kept on trying to convince them [just to allow] us to procure pero wala ngang nangyari (but nothing happened),” Tugade said.
The DOTr, however, said it is already working on purchasing a part of the total driver’s license cards needed “after the LTO’s failure to undertake early procurement activities in compliance with the existing rules.”
It noted in a statement that the DOTr’s bids and awards panel is still evaluating the procurement terms of reference (TOR) submitted by the LTO in late March.
It likewise said that the committee had “decided to assess the TOR to determine a more efficient, effective and economic option at procuring the license cards” after a pre-bidding conference in April.
The DOTr added that it is also in talks with the Government Procurement Policy Board-Technical Support Service to fast-track the purchase of the license cards.
“DOTr hopes to procure enough license cards before supply runs out and while the TOR is being remedied so the bidding for supply of license can proceed,” the agency said.
The LTO’s problem with low supply of plastic cards for driver’s licenses is not new.
A similar dilemma was encountered by the LTO in 2015, prompting the agency to extend the 150-day validity of temporary driver’s licenses until it could address its inadequate inventory of cards.