If you're finding it hard to comprehend why problems over driver's license cards keep cropping up, you're not alone.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) appeared in Congress to answer questions from members of the Committee on Transportation concerning the printing contract for the five-year validity driver's license cards and the security features of these cards.

After learning that two contracts were made for the printing of driver's license cards, the existing contract for cards with three-year validity and a new contract for ones with five-year validity, Rep. Noel L. Villanueva (3rd District, Tarlac) asked the LTO why the current contract couldn't be amended to accommodate the longer-term card.

"Hindi ba puwedeng pag-isahin na lang iyan, hindi ba gastos sa gobyerno na merong three years at may five years pa na contract?" said Villanueva.

["Can't it be done in a single contract, isn't it an added expense to government that there is a three-year validity contract and a five-year validity contract?"]

According to LTO chief Edgar Galvante, the cost of printing cards with the three-year validity is Php 187.08 million.

Based on Galvante's answer, Rep. Villanueva estimated that the driver's license card project – including the current backlog of driver's license cards and the fresh batch of five-year validity license cards – will cost more than Php 800 million.

When asked by committee vice-chairman Rep. Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento (1st District, Samar) about security features of both cards, Galvante presented samples of the PVC cards which costs Php 67 and the polycarbonate card priced at Php 100 each.

The PVC card uses a barcode, is malleable and only lasts for three years while the polycarbonate card can last up to 10 years and will come with a microchip for higher security.

A very 'simple' answer to the congressman's question is no. License card costs are essentially passed on to applicants. The problem lies in re-encoding license transactions already done, which will actually cost more money along with Php 33 more for the new polycabonate cards.

The LTO charges a fee of Php 350 for license renewals for both Non-Professional and Professional holders. The agency also penalizes late renewals at Php 75, Php 150 and Php 225 for deliquencies of one, two or three years, respectively. A computer fee of Php 67.63 is also charged for encoding of data into the LTO server.

There is currently a three million backlog of driver's license cards and that does not include the 1.033 million backlog of the five-year validity cards that cost Php 103,353,800.

Based on the backlog, this brings the LTO's obligation to the motoring public to about PhP 201 million in license cards out of the PhP 1.05 billion collected for the three-year validity license transactions. 

Initial production of the five-year validity license cards will be done in March 2017.