LTO's dwindling supply of plastic cards could have been easily avoided
Earlier in March, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) issued a memo suspending yet again the production/stamping of motor vehicle (MV) as well as motorcycle (MC) plates.
The memo, which was dated March 13, 2023, says that “In view of the depleting stock of license plates pending the procurement of which by the Department of Transportation as of this date, all production license plates except for vintage/electric/hybrid vehicles is hereby suspended until further notice.”
And then there was a follow-up, but this time it was for license cards. On April 20 LTO chief Atty. Jayart Tugade announced during a press conference that the agency’s remaining stocks of plastic cards are also having problems. He says that they will completely run out by the end of the month. The agency also presented to the public the “new” paper temporary driver’s license.
This news from the LTO didn’t go well with the motoring public, as well as Senator Grace Poe. “Isa ang driver's license sa mga government-issued IDs na karaniwang ginagamit sa iba't ibang transaksyon. Pera ng ating mga kababayan ang pinambayad d'yan. Bigyan naman natin sila ng tama at kagalang-galang na lisensya, hindi lang kapirasong papel," shared Poe.
[The driver’s license is one of the government-issued IDs that is commonly used in different transactions. It is tax payer’s money that was paid for that. Let’s provide them with a respectable driver’s license, not the one printed on paper]
Here's the odd bit of information: A source within the Department of Transportation (DOTr) told our sister publication MotoPinas.com that this issue could have been prevented. The shortage in the supply of plastic cards could have been prevented had the LTO initiated the early procurement process.
In a report that was forwarded to us by our source, the LTO had the time from August up to December of 2022 (a 4-month early procurement window) to look for a supplier of new plastic cards. This would have been allowed by the Fiscal Year 2023 General Appropriations Act. Unfortunately, the LTO, as of January 2023, had no active procurement of license cards.
It is also noteworthy that the LTO had a sudden changing of the guard in November 2022 when Teofilo Guadiz III was replaced as LTO Chief by Jay Art Tugade after only four months on the job.
The issue is because there was supposedly an internal disagreement with LTO officials as to which supplier to go for. We were told that one official favored supplier "A" while another favored supplier "B", and so on and so forth. Such is typical in a bureaucracy.
Had the LTO come to a consensus and followed the process, the earliest delivery of pre-printed plastic cards for driver’s licenses could have been April 20, 2023, and motorists renewing or applying for licenses would have had a steady supply of driver’s license cards.
The DOTr also maintains that they have exerted all efforts to remind the LTO in writing to submit all the necessary documents so that a plastic card shortage could be avoided. The LTO, on the other hand, only submitted these documents last month.
With plastic cards dwindling fast, new applicants and those that will renew their licenses soon will have to settle for the version printed on paper. However, the LTO also said that the validity of driver's licenses which are set to expire starting April 24, 2023, will be extended until Oct 31, 2023, to give time for procurement.
Needless to say, there will be another backlog.