Transport operators and lawmakers are up in arms against an order issued by the Land Transportation Office imposing additional requirements on the renewal of professional driver’s license.
The controversial LTO administrative order AVT-2015-029 was signed on Sept. 22, 2015 by Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and his deputy Alfonso Tan Jr. as chief of the Land Transportation Office.
LTO’s September order prompted a group of tricycle operators to ask the Pasig City Regional Trial Court for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injuction nullifying the Abaya-Tan impost.
In a 14-page petition, Ariel Lim of the National Confederation of Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines questioned before the court the implementation of the LTO order requiring at least two million drivers applying for renewal of professional driver’s permits and conductor’s permit to submit additional requirements such as an NBI and police clearances.
Senatorial candidates Richard Gordon, Honey Jacel Kiram, Sandra Cam and Rafael Alunan accompanied Lim in the filing of the case.
In the House of Representatives, a Palace ally demanded that LTO should suspend its new order requiring a driver to obtain NBI and polices clearances as a prerequisite for the renewal of licenses.
Instead of requiring NBI and police clearances, the LTO should reinstate their previous drug testing requirement, Iloilo City Rep. Gerry Trenas said at least for those who are applying for professional license, to ensure that public utility drivers are drug-free.
Trenas said that requiring NBI and police clearance from renewing license holders and new applicants would only entail unnecessary cost for applicants, most of whom barely has enough money to pay for their license fees.
This would also cause unnecessary hassle for applicants who would have to waste at least a week of their productive days just to be able to get an NBI and police clearance even before they can even start queuing to apply for their actual driver’s license.
What is only required for one to be able to get a driver’s license is to be physically and mentally capable to drive a vehicle and properly observe traffic rules and therefore, requiring an NBI and police clearance is completely ill-advised and unreasonable.
Trenas said that what is needed instead is to reinstate the drug test procedure which was part of the medical tests being administered as pre-licensing requirement.
This is to avoid issuing licenses to drivers who are drug addicts who can pose real danger to their fellow motorists, passengers, pedestrians and other people who are on the road.
“With the new regulation, the additional requirements of NBI and
police clearance would add to the number of days for us
to renew drivers’ licenses,” Lim said. “ In some municipalities, people need to travel more than 200 km to go to the nearest NBI office. The burden
becomes triple—the additional cost of acquiring the documents, the cost of travel, and the number of days needed to finish it equals the days where we won’t have work or livelihood. It likewise deprives us who may fail under its ambit their only means of livelihood without due process of the law,” Lim said.
Lim said that the new LTO administrative order would be contrary to Republic Act No. 4136 or Land Transportation and Traffic Code as as amended by Batas Pambansa 398, which “do not impose additional requirements from applicants such as an NBI or police clearance.”
The LTO said earlier that the new requirements would ensure that drivers have not infringed any laws or no criminal records and they are capable to drive vehicles for hire.
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