Members of the House committee on transportation have questioned the driver’s license card project of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), particularly the rationale of the printing contract for the five-year validity cards and the security features of the cards.
In a recent hearing, Rep. Noel L. Villanueva (3rd District, Tarlac) asked LTO officials about the rationale of the contract for the printing of the five-year license cards since there is also a printing contract for license cards with three-year validity.
“Hindi ba puwedeng pag-isahin na lang iyan, hindi ba gastos sa gobyerno na merong three years at may five years pa na contract. Can’t it be done in a single contract”? Isn’t it an added expense to government that there is a three-year validity contract and a five-year validity contract?,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva also questioned how much does it entail the LTO to print the license cards with five-year validity.
“Magkano ho ba inyong kontrata sa pagpri-print ng five-year validity license cards. In the terms of reference (TOR), the purpose of the contract is to produce 8.5 million driver’s license cards which are secured and tamper-resistant,” said Villanueva.
After completing the backlog for the three-year license cards, Villanueva suggested that the system be discarded.
“Itong sistemang ito, di ba magiging five years na tayo bakit kelangan pang i-direct contract iyong cards with three-year validity period. Nakapaghintay naman na tayo ng matagal eh di gawin na lahat na five-year period iyan. Tingin ko makakatipid pa ang gobyerno,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva asked how much will be spent for the license cards with three-year validity period that will be procured by direct contracting. “Just to satisfy the three-year validity backlog, what is the figure, so after that hindi na magagamit iyong machine, iyong system na iyon?” Villanueva asked.
LTO chief Edgar Galvante said the cost is P187.08 million.
Villanueva said based on Galvante’s answer, the total cost of the project is more than P800 million. “The backlog plus the five-year validity license card will cost the project more than P800 million,” he said.
Rep. Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento (1st District, Samar), a committee vice chairman, asked Galvante if the license cards are tamper proof. “We do not want people to go to Recto to get their driver’s license. Do you have features in the IDs to make them tamper proof,” Sarmiento asked.
Galvante said they had presented samples of PVC card and polycarbonate card which is a little costlier. The material of the new license card with five-year validity costs P100 while the PVC card costs P67 pesos.
Asked about the difference between the PVC and polycarbonate card, Galvante said the PVC card is “malleable, not durable and has a life span of three years.” Meanwhile, the polycarbonate card may last even up to 10 years and is very durable. The design of the two cards is basically the same. But in terms of security features, the polycarbonate card, instead of using the barcode, will be chip-based with more security features that are hard to replicate, according to Galvante.
Galvante said they separated the three-year card from the five-year validity card because they are introducing a security measure. “We are thinking of incorporating a chip on the card itself. And in terms of quality, it has polycarbonate material which is more durable,” said Galvante.
Galvante said there is a backlog of three million cards, and included in the five-year contract is the provision for the printing of the license cards with five-year validity.
Villanueva also asked about the LTO procurement timeline. “Going back to the cards with five-year validity period, in the terms of reference you presented to us, the procurement timeline is not indicated. When will be the pre-bidding and the bidding itself start, and how many signified their intent to participate in the bidding,” Villanueva said.
Galvante reiterated that there are entities that signified their intention to join the bidding, and that a procurement conference for the five-year validity license cards was held last November 17. Later on, they will issue a notice to proceed and that the winning bidder will be identified this month.
Initial production of the five-year validity license cards will be done in March 2017.
Rep. Federico S. Sandoval II (Lone District, Malabon City) said he supports the effort of Galvante in fast-tracking the printing of the license cards. He asked how the contract differs from the existing one.
Sarmiento asked Galvante about the total number of drivers license at present. Galvante said for the figures of the backlog, or those who were issued license papers, the estimate is three million. For the backlog of the five-year validity, he said the figure is 1.033 million.
Sandoval, a vice chairman of the committee on appropriations, said in next year’s budget, the LTO will have the money to do the contract. “Not only that, I think in the bicameral conference committee, additional funds are even given to you for the purchase of plate-making machines,” Sandoval said.
Galvante said the LTO previously requested for the purchase of a plate-making machine but the procurement did not push through. “It may be a wise move to print the license plates ourselves like in the past. We used to have a plate-making installation facility. But reviving that plate-making machine will be very costly and in fact, we’ve been advised that it is better to buy a more advanced one than rehabilitating the existing machines,” said Galvante.
Galvante said in the contract, licenses not printed after October 11, 2016 will be considered as backlog and their validity will be for five years since the agency started issuing the five-year license cards last October. He said they estimate the cards to total 1.03 million cards, amounting to P103,353,800.
Galvante said for the 2017 five-year validity license card, the approximate quantity is 6.764 million cards, costing P100 each or about P676.498 million.
“But we want to have a buffer stock so this will cover those not foreseen. We are allotting 563,700 pieces of license cards which cost about P56 million. So all in all, including the backlog, the cost is about P836.226 million. But again, separate po iyong three-year backlog and yung five-year backlog, and five years moving forward,” Galvante said.
Galvante said the bidding for the project is not yet through as what has been negotiated is for the three-year validity with a backlog of three million. This will be done through direct contracting as allowed under the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB). He said there are five entities which expressed interest to participate in the bidding that will handle the printing of the five-year license card.
As an update, last month, the LTO announced it will start the printing and distribution of three-year plastic license cards by December 19, 2016. The LTO also said motorists who have pending applications can claim their plastic license cards in the 36 LTO licensing offices in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The LTO announcement came after the agency signed a P186-million three-month deal with its last provider, Allcard Plastics Philippines Inc., to supply three million plastic cards until February 2017.