If there’s one thing Aquino administration officials are good at, it is their penchant for coming up with schemes to either make things life harder for our poor countrymen or squeeze more money out of ordinary Filipinos, all in the guise of “public welfare.” And no one exemplifies this better than Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Alfonso Tan, Jr.
Recently, Tan came out with a harebrained plan requiring first-time applicants for driver’s licenses as well as those renewing their professional drivers or conductors’ licenses to first secure an NBI and police clearance supposedly to prove that “the applicant has not been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude or reckless imprudence resulting from reckless driving.”
Everyone knows that getting an NBI or police clearance takes a lot of time and money. Aside from losing a day’s wage, professional drivers and conductors also have to shell out money for government fees, transportation and other incidental expenses.
Not only is the LTO placing an additional burden on ordinary workers, it is also imposing arbitrary (and illegal) conditions for the issuance a professional driver’s license. The LTO chief, who is also a lawyer, knows full well that, under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, a person can be denied a professional driver’s license only if he or she is “suffering from contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and epilepsy or who is an alcohol or drug addict or dependent.”
There is no law whatsoever prohibiting a person who has been “convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude or reckless imprudence resulting from reckless driving” from being issued a driver’s license. For Tan to impose additional conditions beyond what the law provides is not only a blatant abuse of his rule-making power, it also constitutes a “corrupt practice” under the anti-graft law for “causing undue injury to private party.”
Another half-witted plan of the LTO is the “Reformed Compulsory Third Party Liability (CTPL) Insurance System Project.” The LTO wants to appoint two private insurance companies – one for odd-numbered vehicles and another for even-numbered vehicles – to issue CTPL insurance for all motor vehicles nationwide. In short, the LTO wants two “lucky” insurance firms to control the sale and issuance of CTPL policies throughout the country.
The CTPL is a mandatory insurance policy required by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in order for a vehicle to be registered. It is purchased by a vehicle owner to compel the insurer to pay for the damages caused to another (a third) party due to the vehicle owner’s fault.
Under the LTO plan, this insurance “duopoly” will not only control the P8.3-billion market for the yearly CTPL insurance, they will also be allowed to charge vehicle owners for insurance premiums at the rates they want to. In short, vehicles owners can no longer choose who their insurer will be.
Not only that. This insurance duopoly has been authorized to charge other insurance companies an “administrative fee” for managing the insurance system. And who do you think will end up shouldering this fee? Well, vehicle owners, of course.
Clearly, the scheme guarantees the insurance duopoly (or system “administrators,” as the LTO calls them) huge profits for very little effort and minimal investment. “Tubong lugaw,” as ordinary folks would say. Worse, being private funds, these monies are not subject to public audit. How much goes to whose pockets will be beyond prying eyes.
This insurance system project is ill-timed, to say the least, especially with just 6 months left before PNoy bows out of office. Why not leave this matter to the next administration to sort it out? The more LTO insists on pursuing this “reformed” project, the more it looks like a moneymaking racket by LTO and DOTC officials, given that the national elections is just around the corner.
This is not the first attempt to centralize the CTPL business. If we remember it right, in the late 1970, President Ferdinand Marcos’ created the Philippine Motor Vehicle Liability Pool, which was managed by a consortium of private insurance companies together with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The consortium eventually went bankrupt because of fraudulent practices, with the pool funds mysteriously disappearing.
In the late 2000’s, the GSIS, under its then president and general manager Winston Garcia, again tried to monopolize the CTPL business but this was met with widespread opposition by vehicle owners and insurance companies.
Will this new LTO scheme finally solve the problem of fake insurance policies, fly-by-night insurers, etc.? Obviously not. Not while fake or fly-by-night insurance providers continue to ply their trade near or inside the LTO offices. Besides, in this day and age of the Internet, there are surely consumer-centric and cheaper but equally effective solutions to address these problems.
What is undeniable, however, is that nothing good ever happens when government dips its fingers into private business, more so in this instance where neither the LTO nor the DOTC has bothered to explain how this “reformed CTPL” would be different from its failed predecessors.
Obviously, the LTO just wants us to take their word for it.