DOTr to extend deadline for renewal of driver's licenses, transport franchises amid Luzon lockdown

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2020 01:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 20 2020 03:26 PM

Vehicles line up at a checkpoint at the Susana Heights exit of the South Luzon Expressway on March 16, 2020. Commuters have seen an increase in traffic congestion on the first work day after Metro Manila was placed on community quarantine. Government later expanded the lockdown to all of Luzon. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Transportation (DOTR) will extend until the end of April the renewal of driver's licenses and public transport franchises expiring within Luzon's lockdown period, a transport official said Wednesday. 

DOTr Assistant Secretary for Communications and Commuter Affairs Goddess Hope Libiran said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade made the decision upon the proposal of Senate President Vicente Sotto III. 

She said Tugade has given instructions to the heads of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for the deadline extension. 

"DOTr Secretary Tugade gave instructions to LTO Asec. [Edgar] Galvante and LTFRB Chairman [Martin] Delgra to issue a directive, as soon as possible, extending deadlines for renewal of permits, licenses, franchises, and the like up to end of April 2020," she said.

Sotto had made the pitch via a phone call, with government offices on limited operations as Luzon is on enhanced community quarantine. The quarantine restricts the movement of people in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

“He will issue extension of renewal of licenses for LTO and LTFRB till end of April," Sotto told reporters in a text message. 

The LTO processes licenses of private drivers, while franchises of public utility vehicles are submitted to the LTFRB.

Several senators have also urged the finance department to extend the deadline for tax filing as Luzon is on lockdown. 

The Philippines' most populated island was placed on enhanced community quarantine earlier this week as the government sought to contain the virus, which can be transmitted through the transfer of small droplets from an infected person's mouth or nose.

Several other provinces in Visayas and Mindanao closed their borders and limited work in the public and private sectors as a precautionary measure.

As of March 18, the Philippines has confirmed 193 COVID-19 cases. Of this number, 14 have died, 7 have recovered, while the rest are still battling the disease in hospitals.

Worldwide, nearly 8,000 people contracted the disease, while 197,000 have been infected.