COA: Erring Pinoy drivers slip through LTO alarm system


    UNWIELDY bureaucratic system meets wily Pinoy drivers and the results are uncollected fines and penalties dating back 20 years which, as of December 31, 2019, has reached P55.54 million with no sign of being settled any time soon.

    The 2019 audit report on the Department of Transportation showed the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has confiscated 45,588 drivers’ licenses (DLs) and 9,951 motor vehicle license plates which remain unclaimed by their owners.

    Government auditors said confiscated drivers’ licenses numbered 11,920 from 2000 to 2015; 5,087 in 2016; 7,724 in 2017; 10,983 in 2018; and 9,874 in 2019 which, had they been redeemed by owners, would have netted the LTO P45.588 million.

    On the other hand, license plates taken off vehicles mostly due to violations of RA 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 totaled 9,951, of which 8,837 were already in the custody of the LTO since 2000 to 2015, while 1,114 were added in 2016. There were no numbers recorded for such apprehensions in the last three years.

    If the corresponding penalties were imposed and duly paid, the LTO could have earned another P9.951 million.

    “This revenue, if realized, could be beneficial to defray the priority programs and projects of the government,” the Commission on Audit pointed out.

    The LTO management agreed with the COA’s recommendation to evaluate the existing processes and make monitoring of the alarm system more stringent so that no renewal or issuance of duplicate licenses can be allowed anywhere in the country unless set fines and penalties are paid in full.

    But while there was no explanation why drivers and vehicle owners simply refused to pay the penalties to get their licenses and car plates back, the COA said many exploited holes in the LTO’s system.

    “Verification disclosed that (vehicle) owners/drivers were able to renew the registration and were issued duplicated/renewed driver’s licenses despite existing pending and alarm status,” it noted.

    In theory, the LTO has three systems by which to flag erring drivers or vehicle owners for unsettled penalties on traffic infractions or violations of standards: the Law Enforcement and Traffic Adjudication System (LETAS), the Driver’s Licensing System (DLS) and the Motor Vehicle Inspection and Registration System (MVIRS).

    Once apprehended, the control numbers of the licenses and plates are encoded and uploaded into the system so they cannot be renewed or claimed without triggering an alarm for cited violations and compel payment of the charges set.

    However, in many cases the drivers and vehicle owners still run circles around the LTO system.