Acquiring a Professional Driver’s License: It’s More Fun in the Philippines
LET ME tell you how to acquire a professional driver’s license in the Philippines based on my experience at the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
Okay, I just had my professional driver’s license. With the help of a fixer. No, I didn’t intend to hire the services of a fixer, nor do promote dealing with one. As you might have known the LTO has a very effective campaign against them fixers. So, I went to the LTO without any intention to deal with any fixer. So I looked for the signage explaining the process. Beforehand, I already made a research by asking licensed drivers, who, as it happens, hired a fixer.
Before going to the LTO, I brought with me the requirements:
- A five-month old valid Student Permit issued by LTO.
- Police clearance secured from the local police station. (Note: To get a police clearance, you must secure a barangay clearance first (which requires a purok clearance) and 2 pieces 2″ x 2″ ID photo with name tag.)
According to the procedure posted at the office, I must fill out an application form (they call an ADL form), which I was not able to get because they stopped releasing at the time I arrived (around 11:30 AM) and they will resume by 1:00 PM.
I didn’t want to waste my time, so, I searched for the list of accredited drug testing centers and medical clinics posted on the wall. I proceeded to the drug testing center. They were about to close for lunch but I asked if they could still accommodate me. They told me to return by 1:00 PM. I was about to leave when a guy approached me, asking me if I was applying for a driver’s license. I answered his questions and he motioned to the clinic staff. I was then given a plastic cup for my urine sample. So the clinic rules can be changed by this guy. How powerful.
The guy then told me that if I need more help, all I should do was to look for him; he said that he would be staying near the LTO. I thanked him and took my lunch.
While eating, I wondered if I should ask him for help or just go through the process. I understand the process very well. After lunch, I would:
- Go to the clinic and have my medical exam.
- Return to the LTO to fill out an ADL form.
- Take the written and practical exam.
- Have my photo and digital signature taken.
- Wait for my driver’s license.
After lunch, I went to the medical clinic. I was surprised to see the guy there. His wife happened to be a clinic staff. Okay. So, I approached the table and they asked for my Student Permit. The woman filled out the form for me using the information from my SP and told me to enter the examination room.
The funniest thing that ever happened to me that afternoon took place at the clinic: the guy who helped me at the drug testing center was the same guy who did my medical exam. He asked me to read the letters on the Snellen chart and decided that I have 20/20 vision. Just who was this guy? A doctor?
I paid the required amount and I was instructed to keep the receipt as it would be inspected at the LTO. I left the clinic went back to the LTO to get an ADL form. I went to window 1 and the woman behind the glass pointed me to the adjacent room where there were people seated, waiting for something. When I entered the room, I was told to wait outside because all the seats were already taken.
I waited outside and realized that, looking at the number of people waiting for their turn and considering the time spent for one applicant, the earliest I could get a form would be about an hour or two.
Suddenly, the guy who helped me at the drug testing center and did my medical exam at the clinic appeared. “Wala pa ka’y ADL?” (You don’t have an ADL yet?) he asked. I told him that I was told to wait outside. He asked me to go back to the clinic and wait there and that he would get me an ADL. We rode his motorcycle back to the clinic and he told me to just wait there. After a few minutes, he arrived with an ADL form, which I filled out right away. He asked for my Police Clearance and TIN card. “Package deal ni. Ambi imong Php 1,800, ako na bahala ani. Hulat lang ka diri,” (This is package deal. Give me your Php 1,800. All you have to do is wait here.) the guy explained.
Everything happened quickly after that. Literally. There were so many people at the waiting area, waiting for their names to be called. My name was called in no time. I didn’t have to wait for a very long time as everyone else. In less than 15 minutes, I had my photo and signature taken. I skipped the written and actual exam.
The guy told me that he would text me the following day to claim my driver’s license from him. We exchanged numbers and he told me his name was Jing.
I went home wondering what power the guy had: first, on the drug testing center staff, the medical clinic staff, and finally, the LTO staff.
If the LTO is serious about their campaign against fixers, how could they allow people like Jing to cut short the process of acquiring a driver’s license to people who are willing to pay?