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LTO: Driver's license backlog at 3 million, plates backlog at 12.5 million

MANILA, February 21 ------ The Land Transportation Office (LTO) will soon run out of plastic cards for printing driver’s licenses, as its backlog stands at over 3 million. The LTO has only 137,945 remaining plastic cards on hand and it is expected to be utilized in less than two weeks.  


The backlog in driver’s license cards increased after a Quezon City Regional Trial Court issued a writ of preliminary injunction last October, temporarily halting the delivery of plastic cards to LTO. “Ang utilization rate natin is around 15,000 a day… At 137,000, this would last us around 10 working days… We are now in paper license cards,” LTO Chief Assistant Secretary Vigor Mendoza said in an interview with the media. 


During the House Committee on Transportation hearing on Tuesday, 1-RIDER party-list Rep. Bonifacio Bosita asked LTO how it plans to allocate the remaining supply. “Marami kasi tayong nare-receive na calls or complaints from our kababayans, lalo na sa OFWs, at alam nating malaking problema ito para sa kanila, lalu na ang drivers na ang hanapbuhay sa abroad ay mag-maneho. In fact may nag-abroad na nag-expire. Considering na maliit lang itong 137,945 cards na available, ano ang plano niyo rito?” he asked. Mendoza replied that the priority would be OFWs. “Our priority are the OFWs. We instruct the district offices to reiterate that whatever cards are left, prioritize OFWs,” he said. 


To address the backlog and the regular demand, the LTO is eyeing to pursue agency-to-agency procurement for the 6.5 million plastic cards. Requests for proposals have been given to three recognized government printers- the National Printing Office, the APO Production Unit and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The BSP, however, submitted a letter of regret. Once a memorandum of agreement is signed, the first batch of 500,000 license cards are expected to be delivered two weeks later. “We hope to sign contract siguro by end of the month,” Mendoza said in an ambush interview. 


The Office of the Solicitor General also sought a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals to allow the delivery of remaining 3 million plastic cards from Banner Plasticards Inc. to push through, according to the LTO chief. Mendoza is also considering to use e-licenses as alternative to the physical driver’s license card. He expects it to be ready for a pilot run by the third quarter of this year. “Kung may electronic licensing na tayo it could be the primary license to be used, baka hindi na kailangan ng plastic cards. Malaking katipiran sa gobyerno. Ordinary cellphone will do. Wala nang special gadget na kailangan. Lalabas na ‘yan through the internet,” Mendoza said. 


The LTO also has vehicle license plate backlogs totaling 12.5 million. Of this number, 9.1 million are motorcycle plates, while nearly 3.4 million are the black and white replacements for the old green motor vehicle plates. Mendoza attributes the backlog in motor vehicle plates to “bottlenecks in distribution.” “Ang plaka nandyan na eh. Kung bibili ka ng kotse ngayon, ang plaka andyan na. Nagkakaproblema lang tayo sa distribution side, kasi ‘yung ibang dealer natin, bina-batching ang pagkuha ng plaka at OR/CR sa LTO at pag-submit ng mga required documentation,” he said. “That’s why we are implementing ngayon online filing para madalian mag-file, mas mabilis, kukunin nalang ang plaka at OR/CR,” the LTO chief added. 


The LTO, however, acknowledged that plant capacity also needs to be increased to wipe out the backlog, particularly on motorcycle plates. When two robot machines go online on or before April 1, LTO expects production capacity to increase to 38,000 plates per day from the current 28,000 plates. At this rate, the vehicle plate backlogs will be erased by not later than the third quarter of 2025. If LTO plants shift to 24-hour operations, it will increase capacity to 48,600 plates per day and delete the backlog by the second quarter of 2025.  


Of the around 27 million vehicles in the country, around 13 million or close to half are unregistered. “People do not register because anyway we are unable to enforce registration requirements on these vehicles especially in the provinces. Some explanations given to me is that they were not able to register during the pandemic and it just carried over after the pandemic. Some saying that their vehicles are already broken, dilapidated, and already set aside,” Mendoza explained to the committee. “Are you aware of the consequences if these unregistered vehicles would continue to use the roads of this country?” panel chairperson Representative Romeo Acop asked. “Yes, that’s why we are aggressively addressing delinquent vehicles,” the LTO chief assured the committee. 



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