MANILA - There are only 70,000 available driver’s license cards for distribution, as against the nearly 700,000 backlog for the said material, according to Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista.
The DOTr chief disclosed this during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing Thursday, which kicked off its investigation on the alleged “undue payment given by the Land Transportation Office to its contractor” as well as on allegations of corruption involving the Road Transportation Infrastructure Project.
“Right now po, mayroon nang shortage ng driver’s licenses ano. As of today, we have only around 70,000 ID cards available nationwide. And we are reserving this for yun pong, OFW. Kasi po kailangan nila ang mga IDs na to,” Bautista told the panel.
“Ang backlog ho nito ay inaabot na ng mga 700,000. 690,000 po ang backlog. Although, ang ginawa po ng LTO is they extended the validity of licences that became due starting April 24 until October 31,” the Secretary added.
These days, the LTO only issues an official receipt (OR) to driver’s license applicants, Bautista said.
In a public hearing last May, Bautista reported to a House of Representatives committee e total driver’s license card backlog totaling to 234,149, which now jumped to nearly 700,000.
Bautista explained: “Hindi na nakapag-issue ng mga driver’s license dahil na-extend na yung validity. Pero we consider that these are backlogs already.”
Despite the increase in number of card backlogs, Bautista assured the public that the shortage will be soon addressed and reduced, since their procurement process is in the final stages.
“If we will going to finalize this, if we are going to qualify the lowest bidder, we should be able to get maybe 500,000 licenses in July,” Bautista said.
Senator Grace Poe did not hide her disappointment on the LTO’s snail-paced manner of addressing the driver’s license issue.
This she said, is especially disappointing because reports about driver’s license backlog started to surface last March.
“Nakikita talaga natin na may pagkukulang talaga dito. Ano ba naman yan. Sana naman ay bilis-bilisan na natin may mga emergency procurement naman. At pinapaalala ko rin na yung lowest bidder’s not necessarily the best provider of service. Again, track record is really important. Capability, etcetera, and also by which they will be able to provide,” Poe pointed out.
Prior to this, Poe also pressed for the explanation of contractor Dermalog regarding its Land Transportation Management System (LTMS) program which the LTO refuses to use.
The senator also zeroed in on the LTO’s continuous payment to another contractor Stradcom.
“Problema din ang dating service provider na si Stradcom dahil patuloy pa rin nating binabayaran dito ang utang na minana pa sa nakaraang mga administrasyon. Kasabay nito, nagbabayad din tayo ng maintenance fees sa Dermalog para sa LTMS. We are paying for two providers but availing the service of one. Ano na bang update dito? Has Stradcom finally and completely turned over the database to Dermalog? If not, what is LTO doing?” Poe said.
None represented Dermalog during the hearing.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III who sought the investigation via Resolution No. 147 pressed for clarification LTO’s contracted parties.
“There was apparently splitting of the project. There were delays in the implementation of the project. I think not less than three years of delay ito and there were numerous extensions givem to the contractors. And there were advance payments made... the general principle under existing laws would be, government should not pay yet for the contracts, especially for those that have not been delivered, or are not fully functional,” Pimentel said.
At the hearing, Bautista reported the payments made by the government for the LTO Infrastructure and Information System Project which was approved year 2010.
The Multi-Year Contracting Authority (MYCA) was issued P10.800.477.242 billion which was approved on 2012.
Paid for the LTO Frontline Services amounted to P2.311 billion from the original amount of P3.140 billion.
“Bakit ho nakapagbayad ng hindi pa tapos yung proyekto? So kahit hindi po ho tapos ito minarapat na bayaran dahil andun po sa kontrata?” panel chairman Senator Francis Tolentino asked Bautista.
“Ganun nga po,” Bautista said.
“Kaya na-flagdown ng COA,” Tolentino concluded.
Senator JV Ejercito later moved to summon Dermalog officials as well as former DOTr and LTO officials who did not attend the hearing.
Pimentel solidified Ejercito’s motion by moving to subpoena all the individuals who snubbed the hearing, which was immediately seconded by Poe and Ejercito.
Tolentino ordered the summoning of the said personalities.