By Mario Casayuran, June 9, 2023; Manilla Bulletin

Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee on Friday, June 9, called on the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to make a thorough assessment of its digitalization program to deliver badly-needed efficient and fast service to the public.

“Years in implementation and billions of money spent later, the Land Transportation Office’s digitalization initiative leaves much to be desired,” Poe said.

She pointed out that the LTO is still plagued with the same old problems — slow if not unserviceable portal, long lines during application or renewal of licenses or registration, backlogs in license plates and recently, close to 700,000 shortage in requirements as basic as plastic license cards.

“These show the agency’s digitalization plan is chaotic. Kumbaga sa computer software, nasa beta phase pa rin (Like in computer software, it is still in beta phase).  Puro testing, hindi na umusad sa final implementation (It still still in the testing phase. It has not moved to final implementation),” she said.

Poe’s panel, together with the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on Thursday, quizzed LTO officials about its P3.19-billion Road Information Technology infrastructure project amid allegations of corruption.

A 2021 Commission on Audit (COA) report has found that LTO has made “undue” and “unjust” payments to firms which allegedly failed to deliver the project. 

“Why was the payment made despite the reported issues and deficiencies of the provider? What has the LTO done about this?” Poe asked.

Poe said the problems hounding the country’s land transportation agency have already piled up. Band-aid or stopgap measures are not the remedies.

“Hindi pwedeng kapag nagkaubusan ng plastic license cards, papel muna ang driver’s license (Issuing driver’s license on paper when there is a shortage of plastic license cards is a no no). O kaya naman dahil ubos na ang plaka para sa motor, do-it-yourself na plaka muna ang gamitin Or when car plates are no longer available, you allow do-it-yourself plates),’’ she added.

The lawmaker emphasized that LTO’s  digitalization program should be accelerated and make transaction with the public eased.

Poe said the LTO should get to the bottom of its longstanding problems and get it back on track to fulfill its mandate of delivering fast and efficient public service.