Those renewing their driver's license will be in for a surprise. As we have experienced ourselves and according to various reports, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is presently unable to issue driver's license cards in Metro Manila and key regions for quite some time now.

A printed notice on the windows of LTO Licensing Centers will be showing 'Temporary License Only' indicating that they cannot issue you a license card and you will have to call them at least a month after to check if your license is available.

Temporary license

While we didn't get a card, the whole process was done in less than 30 minutes as demonstrated by no less than President Aquino earlier this year. The receipt came with the stamp validating it as a temporary driver's license for two months until you receive your license card.

According to a recent report by the Manila Times, the LTO has been paying its license card supplier, Amalgamated Motors Philippines Inc (AMPI) for over 24 years without a proper contract. The issue surfaced recently after the Senate Committee on Finance headed by Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero, asked if the proposed PhP 586 million budget for the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of the LTO will be used for the payment of supply of driver's licenses.

LTO Chief Alfonso Tan Jr. stated that only PHP 528.7 million will be used in funding the driver's license MOOE since the department is currently not paying any contractor in supplying the license cards after the Commission on Audit (COA) issued a Notice of Disallowance last year. When asked why the COA issued it, Tan confessed that that AMPI has been supplying the LTO with license cards without having a valid contract.

Tan further elaborated that AMPI's contract with the agency had already expired since 1990 but was allowed to have it temporarily renewed every year until 2006 while the agency failed to conduct a proper public bidding.

Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Emilio Abaya was also probed by the Senator on why his department failed to conduct a public bidding for the supply of licenses since the previous contract was expired for 24 years. The Senator further pointed out that had the COA not issue the Notice of Disallowance, the LTO would have continued its usual rounds of renewing a supplier's contract without public bidding, which is against the law.

The transport secretary explained that his department has already began the pre-procurement process and is currently reviewing the terms of reference for the supply of driver's license. Abaya also added that the DOTC is looking to centralize the process by producing the driver's licenses themselves in the future.

In a separate report, AMPI is blaming the Manila Port Congestion for its failure to supply license cards. AMPI is expecting the normalization of the process once its materials arrive. But sources wishing to be unnamed have revealed that supplies are available at the AMPI facility, and the real problem is the absence of a proper contract with the government which will result to non-payment for AMPI's services.