Driving school diploma before drivers’ license? Recto says no such requirement under law

Published February 8, 2021, 6:13 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday questioned the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for requiring new drivers and student-drivers to secure certificates from driving schools before they are given licenses.

Senator Ralph Recto
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The senator, in a statement, said this is one of the several policies of the LTO that have been “creating lucrative downstream industry as a result of their privatized implementation”.

Recto pointed out that Republic Act No. 10930, the law extending the validity of driver’s license to five years and strengthening the rules on the issuance of the licenses, does not call for such requirement.

The same law was cited by the LTO in the memorandum circular it issued in December, 2019, to make the driving school certificate mandatory for the issuance of driver’s licenses.

“Kahit halughugin mo ang (Even if you search through) RA 10930, there is no explicit provision authorizing the LTO to impose the driving school diploma rule. This is a case of an overreach,” Recto said.

“Ang importante, maipasa mo ang test sa isang paraan na tapat, walang daya, walang hocus-pocus (What’s important is that you pass the test in way that is honest, no cheating, or any hocus-pocus),” he added.

The law, signed in August 2017, added a new provision to the Land Transportation and Traffic Code (RA No. 4136) establishing “stricter rules before the issuance of driver’s license”.

It states: “The LTO shall promulgate prerequisites and guidelines before the grant of drivers’ licenses to ensure that these are issued only to deserving applicants with sufficient driving skills and knowledge on road safety and proper road courtesy.”

“Toward this end, the conduct of theoretical and practical examinations, among others, must sufficiently measure the competency of drivers and must be designed to the type of license applied for its corresponding restrictions: Provided, That for professional drivers, the tests must be appropriated to the vehicle and type of service the applicant intends to operate,” it added.

In issuing its memorandum circular, the LTO said that the driving school diploma requirement would “improve the quality of driver’s education” and would make sure that driver’s licenses are issued only to “deserving” applicants.

Under the memo, those applying for a new professional or non-professional license must complete a 15-hour theoretical driving course (TDC) conducted by the LTO or LTO-accredited driving schools. Applicants who were given Student Permits are also required to submit practical driving course (PDC) certificates.

Those renewing their licenses, on the other hand, must undergo an eight-hour driving lecture.

Recto said that since the LTO has limited facilities and personnel, earnings for driving classes are being “funneled to private driving academies, which have been mushrooming ever since the order was issued.”

According to him, private driving schools charge an average fee of P2,875 for the TDC. The course is free if taken at LTO’s Driver’s Education Centers, and the cost for handouts is around P370.

Citing LTO data, he said 2,614,976 student permits in 2019.

“If the same volume holds true in the coming years, then driving schools are looking at a P7.5 billion annual market,” Recto estimated.