After its launch in Metro Manila next month, the five-year driver’s license will be rolled out nationwide before the end of the year, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arturo Tugade today assured senators hearing a bill which seeks the grant of presidential emergency powers to unknot the traffic mess.
Upon questioning by Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, Tugade replied that the new driver’s license which will be valid for five years will be made available throughout the country before 2016 ends.
Recto is principal author of the bill extending the validity of the license to drive from three years to five years.
Recto said the issuance of driver’s licenses with a longer validity period must be rushed in regions outside Metro Manila “because licenses issued in NCR account for only 25 percent of the total.”
“Ang karamihan nasa probinsya,” Recto said, citing the official report that of 5.6 million licenses and permits to operate a motor vehicle last year, only 1.4 million were processed by Land Transportation Office (LTO) branches in Metro Manila.
Asked by Recto why the new license cannot be launched nationwide in one go, Tugade said his agency will still have to access the national database of persons who have been issued licenses to drive.
“Kasi ho ang kinakailangan dyan yung teknolohiya kung saan alam natin na yung sistema ng LTO at LTFRB ay kaakibat yung Stradcom. Bago ka gumalaw ng figures or data sa Stradcom system, kailangan ng usapan yan,” Tugade said.
He was referring to the private contractor which designed and operated the computer and IT system used in issuing driver’s licenses for years before its contract was terminated by the Aquino administration.
Stradcom reportedly had filed a suit compelling government to pay what it owes the company for work done.
“Ganun pa man, nakausap namin ang Stradcom at pumayag sila na i-calibrate ang sistema at uumpisahan sa Metro Manila (ang ) 5 years (na lisensya). Hopefully kung magagawa yan ilalahat natin ang sistema nationwide,” Tugade said.
Challenged by Recto to cut the red tape in transportation offices, Tugade said the renewal system for the five-year licenses will be “technology-dictated.”
“Kung wala kang violation, citation at wala kang nagawang illegal, yung renewal mo ay technology dictated na. Di na kailangan ng physical presence sa LTO o LTFRB,” Tugade said.
Recto welcomed this as it would mean that applications and renewals can be done online. “Instead of pila for hours, using the apps in minutes, tapos na.”
Tugade also told members of the Senate Public Services Committee that LTO will be setting up more kiosks in its offices so that car registration can be done in a do-it-yourself fashion.
“Applicants will just follow the process, fill-in the blanks, then they will just be interacting with the machine. You automatically address the problem of fixers,” Tugade said.
Recto welcomed this scheme “as it is in consonance with the digitization drive being done by the newly-formed Department of Information and Communication Technology.”
Asked by Recto if the passage of the bill lengthening the validity period of driver’s licenses would provide the impetus for the accelerated delivery of new licenses, Tugade said, “hindi na kailagan kasi ibibigay na po namin yan.”