SENATE president pro tempore Ralph Recto yesterday questioned two Land Transportation Office programs – the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers and mandatory enrollment in driving schools for first time driver’s license applicants – that he said only benefits private companies implementing them.
Recto said the PMVIC generates around P8 billion annually while mandatory enrollment in driving schools generates P7.5 billion a year, money that goes to private companies and not the government.
He said that instead of allowing private companies to implement these programs, Recto said the government should modernize the LTO so it can offer the programs at much lower prices to vehicle owners and license applicants.
“It is unfair and premature to call these ‘money heist’ ventures, because as I have said, the objectives are laudable, but the implementation is far from lovable,” said Recto, who has filed Senate Resolution 638 seeking to suspend the operation of PMVICs nationwide until a comprehensive public consultation has been conducted.
A hearing on the issue is scheduled today, February 9.
According to the LTO, an individual must pay P1,800 for his vehicle to be inspected in PMVICs, and will pay another P900 if his vehicle fails the inspection and is re-inspected.
New license applicants pay an average of P2,500 for a 15-hour theoretical driving course and more than P10,000 for a practical driving course before they can have a driver’s license, which entails another cost.
Reco said the LTO has a Driver’s Education Center that offers free driving courses but can only a accommodate limited number of students. In 2019, Recto said the LTO issued 2,614,976 student permits.
“If the same volume holds true in the coming years, then driving schools are looking at a P7.5 billion annual market,” he said.
Recto said the law cited by LTO’s MC 2019-2176 that makes mandatory the submission of driving school certificates is an overreach.
“Kahit halughugin mo ang (Even if you scrutinize) RA 10930 (Land Transportation and Traffic Code), there is no explicit provision authorizing the LTO to impose the driving school diploma rule. This is a case of an overreach,” Recto said.
“Ang importante, maipasa mo ang test sa isang paraan na tapat, walang daya, walang hocus-pocus,” he said. (The important thing here is that you pass the test in the most honest way),” he added.
“Another sector in the LTO’s fee industry whose earnings have been turbocharged courtesy of new requirements is the MVIS,” he added.
Based on records, Recto said around 12.5 million vehicles were registered in 2019 and inspections done could reach P8.1 billion which went to PMVICs.
“The profit and ROI (return on investments) for the private businesses that implement this government rule is high. So, if government is willing to spend P357 billion for a subway that will bleed subsidies, then why can’t it modernize the LTO’s own inspection system so it can help defray the social cost of car ownership?” he said.
“At this time of the pandemic when the people are facing a health crisis and an economic downturn that is causing suffering, fear and anxiety, our people should not be further burdened by regulatory measures with questionable procedures, imposing exorbitant fees with doubtful effectiveness, and implemented without proper public consultation,” he said in the proposed resolution.
“We should find that sweet spot where we prevent unsafe vehicles on the road without the owners getting run over by high fees and fines,” Recto added.