Looks like it’s back to paper licenses as LTO gives up big 4,000,000 plastic card donation

The LTO just can’t seem to catch a break. A massive donation of 4,000,000 plastic cards to be used for printing Driver’s Licenses was “finalized” with a turnover this past December, but only a week ago, the agency declared a State Of Emergency. Why? Because the donation sits idle as the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) reviews the legality of the cards’ donation and use. In a surprising announcement, agency Chief Atty. Vigor Mendoza II said that they will no longer “accept” the donation.

Paper-printed Driver’s Licenses return anew with LTO declining use of donated plastic cards

Lto Plastic Card Driver's License No Donation Inline 01 Min

Photo: Land Transportation Office

Many had hoped that the LTO’s problems with providing plastic card Driver’s Licenses had finally ended when news broke about the donation from the Philippine Society of Medicine for Drivers or PSMed.

“The delivery of these four million plastic cards is enough to address both the backlog and the daily usage through application and renewal of driver’s license,” Vigor Mendoza II, Chief of the Land Transportation Office said at that time. It wasn’t meant to be, though, as the donation was hounded by more problems and complications even as the public began to have hope.

2024 Lto Land Transportation Office Plastic Card Shortage Again Main 00 Min

Photo: Land Transportation Office/Lipa PIO

Last week, it was bared that the donated cards were being reviewed by the OSG to ensure their legality and use. To be fair, this is the first time that the LTO received a donation of this sort, and as the law requires, it must be ensured that the process (and act) comply with existing laws.

On this development, Mendoza had this to say: “We are almost at zero. It (the Review conducted by the OSG) takes some time because it’s a new process, new procedure. This is the first time plastic cards are donated to the LTO. The DOTr just wanted to be careful that [the donation agreement has] no hanky-panky or side deals.”

Lto Dotr Driver's License Plastic Cards Delivery First Batch Main 00 Min

Photo: Land Transportation Office

The LTO now has no other option but to return to issuing paper-printed Driver’s Licenses to the public. Whatever supply remains – which is seen to run out very soon – will be given to OFWs. As a contingency, the Land Transportation has already extended the validity of expired licenses until April 4 and has reminded the public that their licenses or electronic Driver’s License (eDL) are also available via everyone’s individual LTMS Account in place of a physical card.

The wait continues, but the LTO sees the donation only as a “last resort”; they will turn to the donation, provided that a favorable decision is reached by the OSG, if the agency does not find other ways to (finally) resolve the plastic card shortage.

Until that time, we’ll all have to bear with temporary, paper-printed licenses. Should we hope? Yes, but not on the plastic card donation. Rather, we should hope that the Land Transportation Office and the Department of Transportation find real solutions to this problem. A problem that’s hounded so many motorists longer than it should have. A solution, and fast.

Mikko Juangco
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