Suansing was appointed chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in 2008, before being made Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chief a year later. He left government service in 2010.
Prior to these appointments, he served as consultant for the late, former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza, then becoming a private sector representative of the Road Board (formed during the Estrada administration out of the LTO’s Road Users Charge) from 2000 to 2002, then again from 2005 to 2008.
Better driving tests, bus rationalization
“Both were bloody,” Suansing said of his short stints at both the LTO and LTFRB. “Of course, the LTO was bigger because there were around five million registered motor vehicles on the country’s roads at the time, while there were only around 390,000 franchised public-utility vehicles.”
At the LTO, he found enforcement of road traffic laws was spotty at best, especially with the proliferation of fake driver’s licenses and registration documents. Suansing started correcting the problematic implementation of the driver’s license exams.
“What we’re doing here is the same as what other countries do,” he said. “The problem is that the exams here are easy to pass. The answers are on the walls of the examination room. You just need to know how to read.”
Suansing also recounted how he personally issued around 5,000 traffic citations in his year at the LTO. “Those who get tickets from me receive special treatment. They have to retake the driving exam in my office while I watch them,” he said with a hearty laugh.
At the LTFRB, Suansing was about to implement a massive restructuring project that he said would have reduced traffic congestion and promoted safer driving – bus rationalization.
“You go outside and look at the buses plying along Edda, you will see a lot of colors,” he said. “We wanted to correct that because the number of colors represents the number of players along that route. My intention was to reduce the players so that they wouldn’t be racing each other for fares. I was ready then, legally and otherwise.”
An MMDA governor
Suansing said the current road traffic situation in the Philippines is chaotic. He cited the structure of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), one of the biggest traffic enforcement agencies in the metro, as a factor in the difficulty in enforcing road traffic laws.
“You have a person there who has a beautiful title like ‘Chairman,’ but cannot do everything as he or she pleases,” he said. “This is because he or she has to plead with the mayors of 17 cities and municipalities [of Metro Manila], which may have their own traffic rules. You can’t just order them around.”
He said one way to remedy this issue is to make the MMDA chairman a governor who wields more power like Imelda Marcos did when she was head of the then-Metro Manila Commission during the Martial Law era.
Suansing said he’d be glad to return to the LTO or LTFRB, where he intends to continue the projects that he started five years ago.
“Filipinos are becoming more aware of the importance of road safety and traffic enforcement,” he said. “If I start pushing to implement these projects, I may lose some friends. But we need order.”