“State of Emergency” – LTO losing plastic card battle as supply close to running out again

The LTO’s struggle with the plastic card supply for Driver’s Licenses continues. Wait, what? Wasn’t it reported that the agency already got a fresh supply – 4,000,000 to be exact – and that Chief Vigor Mendoza II assured the Filipino citizens that everyone would finally be getting plastic Driver’s License cards and not printouts anymore? Yes, this is so, ladies and gentlemen, and here’s what happened.

Neverending Story: The LTO and its plastic card supply

Lto Land Transportation Office Driver's License Plastic Card New Dates Of Renewal license renewal Main 00 Min

Photo: Land Transportation Office

A sliver of hope was given to the motoring public last month when the Land Transportation Office took delivery – or more properly, donation – of about 4,000,000 plastic cards from the Philippine Society of Medicine for Drivers or PSMed. At that time, LTO Chief Mendoza happily announced, “So we would like to announce to our clients, to the Filipino people na wala ng lisensyang papel! Balik-plastic na lisensya na tayo! [We are going back to plastic licenses!]. This is really good news for all of us. And we in the LTO are very happy that everything is coming together (na). We are back on the right track.”

Alas, more complications have arisen since then.

Lto Driver's License 4 Million Plastic Card Donation Inline 01 Min

Photo: Land Transportation Office

The use of the said donation is currently under review by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). Why? To ensure that the use of the donated cards for the LTO’s use in printing card licenses will be compliant with existing laws. As we speak, no timeline as to when this “review” will be completed has been announced by the OSG. In other words, the stocks of plastic cards lie dormant until a decision is reached.

At this point, Mendoza said that a backlog of 2.6 million Driver’s Licenses still needs to be addressed, and given the current stock of only 270,000 plastic cards remaining nationwide, a “State of Emergency” has been declared by his agency.

Lto Land Transportation Office Commits 5000 Plastic Cards July 24 Main 00 Min

Photo: Land Transportation Office

“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,” Mendoza explained.

In light of this new development, those with expired Driver’s Licenses have been given a validity extension by the LTO. These motorists now have until April 4 to use their expired Driver’s Licenses. As for those who have expired or expiring paper-printed Driver’s Licenses, they can use their electronic Driver’s License or eDL which they can find and access with their LTO LTMS accounts.

When will this problem ever end? We’re pretty sure that citizens and the LTO itself have been asking this question for a very long time now. And we’re also sure that everyone can’t wait for a real solution to finally come about. Until such time, it’s eDLs and paper-printed Driver’s Licenses for us.

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Mikko Juangco
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