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Burden on driver’s background check should be on LTO – Gatchalian

Photo by DOTC

Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian has opposed the move by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) imposing additional requirements for those applying for the first time or seeking to renew their licenses either as a professional driver or as conductor.

Gatchalian was referring to LTO Administrative Order No. AVT-2015-029, which requires clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to those applying for or renewing their professional driver’s license. Non-professional drivers are not covered by the new regulation.

While having NBI and PNP clearances will help weed out undesirable drivers of buses, jeepneys and taxis, especially those who have been involved in reckless driving, Gatchalian pointed out that this burden should be on the LTO and not on drivers.

“I am personally opposing these additional requirements because it is burdensome to ordinary drivers. The LTO should come up with an easier and hassle-free process to achieve their background check on drivers. The burden should be on the LTO and not on the drivers,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.

Gatchalian shares the view of various transport groups that the LTO administrative order will cause inconvenience to drivers living in far-flung areas such as those in Tawi-Tawi who would have to go all the way to Zamboanga just to get an NBI clearance.

Another example which Gatchalian cited from transport groups were drivers coming from Sanchez Mira town in Cagayan province who would have to travel more than 200 kilometers to Tuguegarao and hope that they would make the cutoff of 200 applicants the NBI has set per day.

“What the LTO should do is to forge a memorandum of agreement with the NBI and PNP that will give them access to data that will provide a background check on a professional driver’s fitness to be on the streets driving a public utility vehicle,” explained Gatchalian.

The National Confederation of Tricycle Operators and Drivers Associations of the Philippines’ (NACTODAP) earlier asked the Pasig Regional Trial Court to stop the LTO from requiring new and old applicants for a professional driver or conductor’s licenses to get clearances from the NBI and PNP.

Describing the LTO administrative order as “unconstitutional and oppressive”, the NACTODAP noted that the LTO order issued in September and implemented starting Nov. 9 not only added to the burden of drivers of public utility vehicles but also deprived those who violated the law of a second chance to make an honest living.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya has ordered the suspension of the LTO order amid prodding from senators who demanded that further study and wider consultation should be made before its implementation.

LTO spokesperson Jason Salvador explained that the new requirement was due to reports on drivers of public utility vehicles, in particular, getting involved in accidents that have resulted to deaths and damage to property. (R. Burgos)