When the Land Transportation Office (LTO) announced last week that they were going to start releasing the new 10-year licenses last week, many rejoiced, some were skeptical, while others were downright just against the idea.
Of course, we all have our opinions, but spending a birthday -the expiry date of your license- at the LTO isn't exactly any fun. On that, I can speak from personal experience.
So when the LTO said that you can do most of the licensing-related stuff online in preparation for your renewal, we thought we'd check it out. After creating an account on the LTO's portal (portal.lto.gov.ph) by entering your license details, you'll be able to check first if you are actually eligible; that means you have no apprehensions or violations that are recorded in the LTO's system. In the case of my license, there are none, and that is reflected in the LTO portal.
We confirmed it with the LTO chief, Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, and that is indeed the case. If a motorist has not been cited by a traffic enforcer for any violation for the validity period of the current license, then the motorist may be issued a 10-year license. If there is a violation/demerit in the LTO system, then the motorist will get a 5-year license.
Asec. Galvante also clarified that the demerits are not carried over from previous licenses; only violations incurred during the last license will be factored in. So, if you are renewing in 2021 and had a speeding violation from 2010, that will not be counted because the license you currently have will have been issued in 2016 under the 5-year validity.
Once you do verify that you are eligible (as evidenced under the demerits section in your LTMS portal account), then you'll need to take a CDE or Comprehensive Driving Examination. Last week, we actually checked the LTMS portal and found no mention or drop-down menu that said CDE. The only thing we found was the Online Validation Exam which was under the E-Learning tab.
When we opened it last week, the link appears to be the CDE because it gives you a set of multiple-choice questions, and starts by asking what license you are renewing (non-professional or professional). There were about 60 questions based on the counter on the top right, asking a variety of motoring rules concerning road safety, protocols, and the like.
We did take that test and found quite a few things that needed addressing. For instance, even if you had clicked the non-professional license renewal option, the OVE still asked questions as if you were applying for a professional driver's license.
I personally don't need to know what the first offense fine is for failing to present a CPC or franchise is during the apprehension, yet OVE was asking if it's PHP 2000, PHP 3000, or PHP 5000. It even asked me what the MVUC rate is for a For-Hire tricycle as well as the penalty for refusal to undergo random drug tests for PUV drivers.
There were also issues with spelling like what to do when you overheat; the correct answer under the LTO's questionnaire is to open the hood and “poor” water on the engine. There were also contentious questions such as a vaguely worded reference to the controversial “last clear chance of avoidance” during traffic accidents.
However, it seems the LTO has already addressed the issues and made some important improvements to the program. And they started with the name: the OVE has now been amended with the CDE. Actually, they're now calling it the CDE Online Validation Exam. That makes it a lot clearer what you are actually taking.
Since I'm renewing my license in a few months, I decided to take it. But the unusual bit is the passing rate: 50%. There's also an odd-numbered 25 questions total. That means a minimum of 13 correct answers to get over the 50% hump. But still, 50% is a very low passing mark if you want safer drivers. Actually, I'm trying to remember if I ever took a class in school that had just a 50% passing grade. P.E. maybe?
One of the key improvements is that the LTO addressed the problem of asking non-professional drivers questions that are clearly for professional drivers. So there were no questions related to violations for PUV drivers or whether or not to snitch to the police that you as a truck driver were being asked to load something not indicated on the manifest, but will be paid more if you do. The correct answer for the latter (under the previous test) was just don't load it and not necessarily report to the PNP.
The questions are definitely better formatted compared to the OVE test I took last week; there is a clear improvement to the exam. There are questions about texting and driving and double yellow lines.
There are also questions that are very unpopular like the LTO asking what the MVUC is for as well as the need for vehicle inspection, yet no politician wants to touch the PMVIC issue given that elections are about 6 months away.
There are still some remnants such as the allusion to “last clear chance” which seriously needs fixing at the legislative level. I mean, if a driver is acting like an unsafe idiot on the road and somehow crashes into you, you could also be held jointly liable because you weren't able to avoid or brake for the idiot. The doctrine “last clear chance” is something that needs fixing, and that needs to happen at the Republic Act level.
After about 10 minutes and no Googling, I got my result: 92% or 23 correct out of 25. 1 of my wrong answers was because I tapped the trackpad by mistake, and the other one was what to do when an ambulance approaches from behind while in traffic.
At the end of the CDE, you get a certificate that says Online Validation Exam that you can print, and you can bring this with you when you renew your license. It will also be emailed to you by the LTMS portal.
Overall though, the LTO has really improved this test. There are some things that may need ironing out, but all things considered, the LTO moved quickly to make it better, and I look forward to getting my 10-year license when my DL runs out in 3 months.
But still, please make the passing mark higher LTO. 75% at the very least.