MANILA, Philippines - Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas on Thursday said Amalgamated Motors Philippines Inc.'s (AMPI) unauthorized redesign of drivers' licenses prompted the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to suspend issuing the cards.
Roxas, in a press statement, said the "temporary glitch" will be resolved before the end of the week.
He said AMI's contract for the supply, production and delivery of driver's licenses to the LTO expired in 2006 and the company only continues to supply the cards because of a writ of injunction issued by a Quezon City court.
"We understand the sentiment of our drivers seeking and renewing their licenses for the inconvenience caused by the temporary glitch at LTO," he said. "We are conducting an investigation why AMPI made the unauthorized change without our approval; we expect LTO operations back to normal before the end of the week."
Roxas said the Arroyo administration failed to bid out a new contract for the production of drivers' licenses in the country, "allowing AMPI to supply license cards indefinitely."
He said the Aquino administration launched a bidding process for a new contract in December 2010 but an injunction issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 96 blocked the project.
He said the same court also issued another writ of preliminary injunction on June 1, which stopped the the government from bidding out the DOTC-LTO IT infrastructure project.
"The decision made by Judge Afable Cajigal of RTC-Branch 96 was an outrageous and flagrant violation of Republic Act No. 8975, which prohibits the issuance by lower courts of orders of injunction, among others, against national government infrastructure projects," the Office of the Solicitor General said.
LTO Assistant Secretary Virgie Torres said her office has not reviewed AMPI's redesign of drivers' licenses.
"We directed all our regional offices to inform the public of the specific offices that are able to issue the regular drivers' license cards and those that are not able to do so," she said. "We have also directed those offices that are not able to issue the cards to issue temporary drivers' licenses instead."
The DOTC explained that AMPI must follow the proper process in presenting a new design and the government must approve it first, including the data that will be stored in the driver's license, before it can be implemented nationwide.
AMPI has been operating without a valid contract since its contract expired in 2002.
AMPI has been the sole supplier of LTO license cards since the time of then-President Ferdinand Marcos.
The operation of AMPI has been allowed to continue via numerous extensions without undergoing any form of public bidding nor was it subjected to any form of review and audit.
Since 2002, AMPI has collected about P3 billion from the public through the LTO without a valid contract.
Early this year (2012), the DOTC moved to correct the situation by having the supply of the driver's license card bidded out.
It published an invitation to bid for the LTO-IT system, which includes the supply of driver's license.
To block the DOTC from bidding the contract, AMPI and Realtime Data Management System filed a case with the Quezon City RTC seeking to enjoin the DOTC from bidding out the license cards.
The RTC issued an order enjoining the DOTC from proceeding with the bidding, forcing the DOTC bids and awards committee to issue a resolution suspending the bid.
On June 5, AMPI informed Torres of the changes in the design of the licenses --- the same day it implemented and informed all regional directors of the changes in the license cards.
AMPI unilaterally changed the design of the license card by converting the material from plastic to paper cards. It was not properly coordinated with the LTO and the DOTC, according to the government.
On June 8, Torres wrote a memo to Roxas that AMPI has changed the design and material of the license cards.
At this time, the issuance of the new card and the card system was already experiencing problems in all LTO offices.
On June 11, LTO issued an order suspending the issuance of the new paper cards.
LTO offices still cannot accept license renewals because of the "system glitch."
Some applicants were told to come back next week for their licenses.