To lessen incidents of crime committed in or through the use of public utility vehicles (PUVs), the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) released revised rules in acquiring a professional driver’s license through AVT 2015-029 in September 22, 2015.

It was met with indignation by various public transport groups and one went as far as requesting the Pasig Regional Trial Court to stop the Land Transportation Office (LTO) from implementing it. They cite cost, time, and degree of difficulty in acquiring such documents, especially for drivers in far-flung provinces.

The clamor was loud enough that it became part of the agenda at the Senate plenary deliberations where Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto questioned the merit of the new requirement.

“Will any kind of a pending case which appears in the NBI list disqualify one from having a license?” asked Drilon.

After learning that applicants with pending cases against persons, property and moral turpitude may be denied a professional driver’s license, Drilon promptly suggested the suspension and review of the said requirement.

“Why don’t you suspend it and review it again because you are affecting the very small people that are trying to earn a livelihood and are unfairly affected by such arbitrary decisions of the bureaucrats,” Drilon said.

The Senate President cited the fact that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty and a pending case shouldn’t hinder a Filipino from seeking employment as a driver.

“There is presumption of innocence. Mahirap naman na nasampahan ka ng kaso hindi ka na pwedeng maghanap buhay bilang driver. We first suspend this while they study, we do not lose anything,” Drilon added.

For his part, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya promptly announced the suspension of the requirement.

Complying with the directive, LTO Chief Alfonso Tan said that they are in the process of crafting a new order to supersede AVT 2015-029 since it cannot be done verbally. The official paperwork is expected to be completed within the week.

During the review, the LTO plans to establish guidelines like listing down certain crimes that may warrant non-issuance of professional driver’s licenses, regardless if the case is pending or has been resolved.