The LTO can’t seem to catch a break. After good news of the delivery of blank plates ready for stamping and the delivery of plastic cards for Driver’s Licenses, the latter was just caught in a snag. The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the awarding of the supplier contract, Banner Plasticards, Inc. after competing bidder AllCard has put forward such a request. What does this mean, then?
Delivery of plastic cards and processing of LTO Driver’s Licenses on hold for at least 20 days
Given the TRO, the LTO will respect the decision of the QC RTC. This presents a very big setback for the agency as it expects to continuously produce and hand out plastic Driver’s Licenses to motorists and start whittling down the estimated 1.7 million card backlog. Take note that this is just the backlog itself and the required cards for new applications per day will only add to this already staggering total. The target is to deliver 1 million plastic cards in the 60 days since the blank cards were delivered to the LTO.
The TRO will be in place for 20 days at least, and a hearing has been set on August 22, 2023. We say “at least” because pending the resolution of the case, an extension or a dropping or lifting of the TRO can happen either way.
The issuance of the TRO follows allegations of competing bidder AllCard. Reports have indicated the company would have been able to provide the LTO with Driver’s License plastic cards at PHP 38.22 per piece, compared to the winning bidder, Banner Plasticards, Inc.‘s rate of PHP 42.00 per piece. That may seem like a paltry PHP 3.78 difference but in its totality, that’s a PHP 19,656,000 gap between the lower bid and the winning bid.
AllCard has also alleged that the LTO’s parent agency, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) was not transparent in its decision to award the contract to Banner Plasticards, Inc.
LTO Chief Atty. Vigor Mendoza II has since issued a statement and said that “the greater public interest should prevail over the business interest of one or two”. The agency’s announcement on its official social media page also read “Right now, we are consulting and coordinating with the Department of Transportation, particularly on the aspect of cushioning the impact of the court’s decision to our clients. We hope that this issue would be addressed in the soonest possible time because it is the Filipino people who would certainly suffer from a prolonged legal battle.”
The court hearing set on August 22 will provide the LTO a chance to prove the baselessness of its issuance and the complaints of the losing contract bidder, but of course, the resolution and ruling won’t be known until that date, or maybe even after. We hope it won’t lean towards the latter.
The LTO‘s efforts have remained commendable, and though its public image is not as shining as many would like to believe, steps towards “cleaning their name” are always a step forward to doing so, as is the production and subsequent timely delivery of both license plates and Driver’s Licenses. But this TRO may again put a very unwelcome stop to the resolution of the license problems.
“Republika ng Walang Plaka”, and now “Republika ng Walang Lisensya”. We all eagerly await the time when we can no longer use these monickers and the time that we all get our plates and licenses.