By Zaldy De Layola
MANILA – Three members of the House of Representatives have filed a measure granting an across-the-board 20 percent discount to indigent public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers on the payment of fees and other requirements in securing a professional driver’s license.
In filing House Bill (HB) 8070, Davao City (1st District) Rep. Paolo Duterte, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap and ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Edvic Yap said the discount applies to, among others, examination fees, certificates, clearances and enrolment in accredited driving schools.
On top of the implementation of the PUV Modernization Program, Duterte said the numerous requirements imposed by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in applying for a professional driver’s license would add to the financial woes of PUV drivers, especially those living in poverty.
Under LTO Memorandum Circular 2021-2284, applying for a professional driver’s license would require an applicant to be at least 18 years old, a non-professional driver’s license holder for at least one year, and able to pass a written exam and practical driving test.
The applicant must also submit a medical certificate, secure a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or the Philippine National Police (PNP) and complete a minimum of eight-hour practical driving lessons from any driving school accredited by the LTO or the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“While the intention of the memorandum is to promote road safety and proper motorist behavior, such requirements would add to the burden of the PUV drivers who are now even tasked to buy modernized and climate-friendly vehicles under the PUV Modernization Program,” the bill’s authors said.
Data from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) revealed that some 430,000 PUV drivers would be affected by the new requirements set by the LTO for getting a professional driver’s license.
Through HB 8070, Duterte and his fellow authors proposed that indigent PUV drivers applying for professional driver’s licenses be given a 20 percent discount on the payment of the following: 1) certified true copy of the birth certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA); 2) medical certificate from an LTO-accredited clinic or physician; 3) NBI clearance; 4) PNP clearance; 5) enrollment fees for the theoretical and practical driving courses given by LTO- and TESDA-accredited driving schools; 6) examination fees; and 7) other government-issued documents and fees required by the LTO.
Without the discount, estimates place the total cost of these requirements between PHP4,000 to PHP7,000.
Indigent PUV driver-applicants will also receive a fixed daily allowance for expenses that they will incur in commuting to and from their chosen driving schools as provided in the measure.
The bill also states that the LTO “shall reduce the requirement that Professional Driver’s License applicants should be holders of valid non-professional driver’s License for one year before application down to three months” only for indigent PUV drivers.
Under the measure, indigent PUV drivers are also given priority in enrolling in accredited driving schools where the courses are free of charge.
Public officers or employees refusing to provide the benefits granted under the measure will be subject to fines ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP20,000. (PNA)