LTO faces driver’s license backlog of close to 700,000
MANILA, Philippines —In a span of just one month, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) driver’s license backlog has surged to approximately 690,000, as the agency grapples with a dwindling supply of new plastic cards.
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista revealed the figure on Thursday during the Senate blue ribbon and public services committees’ investigation into the alleged corruption plaguing the agency, particularly in its multi-billion Road Information Technology Infrastructure project.
“The backlog here has reached 690,000. Although what the LTO did was to extend the validity of licenses that became due starting April 24 until October 31,” Bautista said in a mixture of English and Filipino.
As a result of the extended validity of driver’s licenses, motorists are now allowed to renew their documents without incurring any late penalty fees.
Senator Francis Tolentino, chairman of the blue ribbon panel, said the current backlog tally is nearly half a million more than the 234,149 driver’s license pileup reported by the LTO during a House transportation committee inquiry in early May.
Bautista mentioned that the LTO’s supply of new plastic cards nationwide currently stands at 70,000.
“We’re reserving these for our overseas Filipino workers because they need these IDs more,” he said.
To address the shortage, Bautista said the LTO has resorted to a controversial interim measure of issuing new driver’s licenses printed on the official receipt of motorists.
The LTO previously disclosed its plan to also introduce digital driver’s licenses as another alternative to the physical document.
Bautista said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is working to prevent the depletion of its supply by finalizing the procurement of 500,000 new plastic cards.
The department is expected to have its inventory augmented by July, he added.
Earlier, the LTO projected that the plastic card shortage would affect approximately 5.2 million motorists nationwide.
The scarcity of driver’s license cards has exposed a perceived rift between the LTO and the DOTr.
Former LTO chief Jose Arturo Tugade said the agency was prepared to procure an additional supply of plastic cards in January.
However, Tugade said the procurement was put on hold after the LTO received a department order instructing them to transfer all procurement activities amounting to P50 million and above to the DOTr.
The DOTr, meanwhile, said it was the LTO that failed “to undertake early procurement activities in compliance with the existing rules.”
Tugade has since stepped down from his position as the head of LTO, citing differences in “methods” with the DOTr.