5-year driver’s license validity ‘a done deal’ — Poe

MANILA — The proposed measure to extend the driver’s license validity from three to five years will soon be advancing to the Senate plenary where its approval is “a done deal”, Sen. Grace Poe assured Tuesday.

Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, made this remark during the Senate hearing on Senate bills seeking to extending driver’s license validity to five years namely SBN 271, 941 and 1224.

These measures were filed by Senate Pres. Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senators Richard Gordon and Joseph Victor Ejercito, respectively.

“…Referring it to the plenary is a foregone conclusion. And its approval, I can say with certainty, is a done deal,” Poe said during the hearing.

At the end of the hearing, Poe’s committee approved in principle the measures seeking to extend driver’s license validity to five years since there were no opposition proposals.

“Our committee shall now be working on a final and consolidated version of the bill and present it to the plenary soon,” she said.

In an interview with reporters after the hearing, Poe said her committee is set to prepare a report on the measure and targets its passage before the Senate adjourns.

She described extending the validity of the driver’s license as “a long commonsensical idea which should have been done a long time ago” and lauded the Duterte administration for the initiative.

The lady senator stressed that while the Executive branch has initiated steps to extend the driver’s license validity, there was a need to pass a law to make sure it lasts during succeeding administrations.

“It is the right thing to do. It is an anti-red tape app that will not cost a cent to implement. It will save all the drivers in this land millions of man-hours otherwise spent in queuing to get the permit to operate a motor vehicle,” she added.

New cards

Poe said that according to the Land Transportation Office (LTO), they will start issuing the driver’s licenses with five-year validity by August.

LTO said that around PHP 526 million was included in the agency’s budget for the driver’s license.

Despite its new features, Poe said that the LTO also assured that license holders will not be paying additional fees. Driver’s license applicants currently pay PHP820 for new license applications and PHP652.63 for license renewal.

The senator said that the cards will be engraved instead of printed since the LTO purchased the equipment and will produce the cards from now on.

Moreover, the new driver’s licenses will feature a hologram mark and “hidden” data so that traffic violations will be uploaded on the system and the barcodes in the license will reflect the changes immediately.

LTO is also in the process of revising the examination questions for license applications, especially for professional drivers, to ensure that qualified and disciplined drivers are allowed to drive.

She, meanwhile, urged the LTO to place more biometric scanners in more populated LTO offices to cut long queues. There are currently 265 LTO offices, but Poe said they should have more than that number.

At present, the contract for the five-year license validity has been awarded to a Filipino-German joint venture to address the backlog on the issuance of driver’s licenses. Azer N. Parrocha and May A. Altavano-OJT/PNA