DRIVERS are bitching over the lack of driver’s license cards issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO), myself included. When I renewed my license last March I was given the Official Reciept stamped with a note indicating that the piece of paper is valid as a temporary lucense until June 18 2015 – this month – but at the same time the kind lady of the LTO office wrote down a telephone number at the back with the instructions to call first.
Well, those who have come before me have had their stamped ORs revised, crossing out the indicated date and marked “valid indefinitely.” This is basically the same press announcement of LTO, that the paper’s temporary status has unlimited validity date – either up to when they finally make the plastic cards available or it’s time to renew again (in three years).
Of all the people I have talked to about the issue I’ve met only one who actually got a plastic card. Apparently there are some LTO satellite offices with old inventory and its agents are willing to give you a plastic card… for a fee, of course. This was confirmed by LTO fixers scouring the Facebook Pages of auto enthusiasts and car clubs, offering their services for registration assistance and the like.
It doesn’t really matter to ordinary drivers because our paper licenses are valid anyway. But it breaks ones heart when you see the utter frustration of one who really needs the plastic card: an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who drives for a living abroad: truck and car drivers, mechanics, heavy equipment operators, motorcycle messengers… they all need the official driver’s license, complete with security features and their photo. Most of them walk away from the LTO office, heads bowed, wondering what they will do. They know there’s know explaining to their foreign employers and their authorities that their government is inept enough to overlook the plastic card supplies.
Those OFWs with the right LTO connections will have to shell out an atrocious amount if they really want their plastic card. These vultures in government agencies look at OFWs like they have a financial advantage over them by the mere fact that they work abroad, thus can be fleeced for more.
An alternative is to get an international driving permit from the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), that is the country and employer they will be working for accept this. However, this costs another P1,500.00.
For the rest of the Filipino population going abroad, not having a driver’s license card means difficulty in renting a car, unless that foreign land indeed recognizes government ineptitude.
So, yes, bitch all you want in Top Gear’s Facebook page or twitter account with a trending hashtag. But do remember that this problem is much bigger than just us. It is a major issue for the sector that has been enabling our economy to survive with their remittances. This is just one more way that the government has failed our modern day heroes.