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Solons want to provide poor drivers who are applying for licenses a discount.

A proposal from three House of Representatives members would give poor public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers a general 20 percent discount on the costs of fees and other prerequisites for obtaining a professional driver’s license.

Reps. Paolo Duterte of Davao City’s 1st District, Eric Yap of Benguet, and Edvic Yap of the ACT-CIS Partylist stated in their House Bill (HB) 8070 filing that the discount applies to a variety of expenses, including test fees, certifications, clearances, and enrollment in approved driving schools.

Duterte claimed that in addition to the implementation of the PUV Modernization Program, the numerous conditions set by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to qualify for a professional driver’s license would make it more difficult for PUV drivers, particularly those who are poor, to make ends meet.

According to LTO Memorandum Circular 2021-2284, obtaining a professional driver’s license requires passing both a written test and a practical driving test, as well as being at least 18 years old and possessing a non-professional driver’s license for at least a year.

In addition, the applicant must provide a medical certificate, obtain clearance from the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and finish at least eight hours of practical driving instruction at any driving school recognized by the LTO or the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Although the memorandum’s goal is to encourage safe driving practices, the bill’s writers claimed that such rules would only increase the burden on PUV drivers, who are already required to purchase contemporary, environmentally friendly vehicles as part of the PUV Modernization Program.

The new criteria imposed by the LTO for obtaining a professional driver’s license would impact some 430,000 PUV drivers, according to data from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Duterte and his coauthors proposed in HB 8070 that the following fees be discounted by 20% for impoverished PUV drivers seeking for professional driver’s licenses: 1) A certified true copy of the birth certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA); 2) A medical certificate from a clinic or doctor that the LTO has approved; 3) A NBI clearance; 4) A PNP clearance; 5) Exam fees; 6) Examination fees; and 7) Other government-issued documents and fees that the LTO requires.

Estimates set the price of these requirements without a rebate between PHP4,000 and PHP7,000.

Indigent PUV driver applicants will also get a set daily allowance to cover the costs of traveling to and from the driving schools of their choice, as specified in the bill.

According to the law, the LTO “shall reduce the requirement that Professional Driver’s License applicants should be holders of valid Non-Professional Driver’s License for one year before application down to three months” solely for impoverished PUV drivers.

Poor PUV drivers are also given preference when enrolling in recognized driving schools where the training is free of charge under the plan.

If public employees or officers refuse to give the benefits mandated by the law, they could face fines between PHP5,000 and PHP20,000.

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