I AM one of the many who have been waiting for the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to issue them their plastic cards after they successfully applied for or renewed their driver’s licenses since more than a year ago.
I renewed my driver’s license in February last year at the LTO extension office in Lawaan, Talisay. I went through the trouble of lining up, filling up forms, undergoing a drug test and submitting for biometrics, including having my picture taken. After more than half-a-day of processing, I was given a paper license with the promise that the plastic card would follow soon.
February 2018 is already next month, meaning a full year would have been gone with the LTO still unable to issue to me my plastic license card. That was why I got excited when the LTO 7 “rolled out” a few days ago the plastic license cards, with Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino and seventh district Rep. Raymond Calderon as image models. They got their cards in five minutes.
So I went to LTO Talisay early yesterday morning and saw the familiar long line of driver’s license applicants snaking from the LTO office to the interior road of the commercial center where the office is located. Only few LTO personnel were there because the office had still to open at 8 a.m. I asked one of them for the counter where I could claim my driver’s license card. “Linya didto,” he told me. I was shocked. I checked with the LTO blue guard who said I had to line up.
“Again?” I asked. “That’s the process,” he said. “You still have some papers to fill up and you will have your picture taken.” “Again?” I asked him again.
I could only smile at the absurdity of it all. All the while, I thought that I would be at some counter, submit my name and wait for my turn to finally be given the ready-made plastic license. I imagined that because the paper license given to me had the image of what the plastic license would look like, with important data and my photo already in it. Meaning, LTO Talisay already had my license in their computer and it was just a matter of placing it on plastic.
When I related my experience on Facebook, a colleague who covered the LTO 7 roll-out of the plastic license cards wrote that the change in the system was the culprit. But what kind of a “new” system negates all the suffering we had to go through and all the effort and time we had to spend when we applied for renewal of our drivers licenses months ago?
We have to line-up again? When I reached LTO Talisay at almost 8 a.m., the cut-off number of applicants that would be served that day was almost breached already. Which means that those who were about to line-up had to return at least at dawn the next day or go to other LTO offices where the same thing is expected to happen: you insert into a long line and be lucky to be served in half a day.
And because those who only want to get their plastic cards (there must be thousands of them in one year) have to line up with the new applicants, the line gets even longer. This is not only taxing for the LTO’s clientele but also for its personnel, who will have to serve those they already served months before.