“Mahirap kapag malayo: aksaya sa oras, sayang ang pagod at nakakainip mag-intay.”
This was the statement of Emer Abanilla, a 41-year-old jeepney driver from Brgy. Damayan, Famy, Laguna about regularly going to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) branch in the municipality of Pila. Going there demands too much from this sole breadwinner to a family composed of four children and a wife suffering from thyroid disorder or goiter. According to him, the burden includes the long process of renewing vehicle registration, the distance between Pila and Famy, and time spent traveling instead of driving for a living.
But drivers like Mang Emer and other vehicle owners need not worry anymore. On August 15, Famy councilor Eddie Mialdo announced the construction of a second LTO branch in the fourth district of Laguna, which will be located in Famy. Coun. Mialdo, part of the Sangguniang Bayan Committee on Transportation, said that this project was first proposed in 2008 by Coun. Constancio Fernandez, but approved only in August 2011 by LTO Regional Director for CALABARZON Eric Lenard Tabalado.
Easy and ready access
“Problema talaga yung malayong LTO dahil kailangan mong magbuno ng mahabang oras para makarating doon,” Mang Emer said. He added that compared to the travel time of one hour and 30 minutes from Famy to Pila, it will now take him only 10 to 15 minutes to go to the new office, which will be located in Brgy. Tunhac.
Coun. Mialdo agrees that the new LTO branch will be a big convenience. It will be located at the town center for easy access, beside the office of the First Laguna Electric Company (FLECO). After the budget details had been submitted by Engr. Jaime Borjal, chief officer of the Pila District LTO, construction will start in November.
The Famy office is the second LTO branch in the fourth district, the largest in Laguna. Other LTO offices are in San Pablo City (3rd district), Calamba City (2nd district), and Binan City (1st district).
The LTO branch in Pila serves 14 towns, namely: Sta. Maria, Mabitac, Famy, Siniloan, Pangil, Pakil, Paete, Kalayaan, Lumban, Pagsanjan, Magdalena Cavinti, Sta. Cruz and Pila. This office will be deloaded by four municipalities once the Famy branch starts operations.
Mang Emer also appreciates that he would be able to save money when going to LTO. Instead of driving across nine municipalities, he would drive only a short distance and thereby save on gas. He remembered his experience of traveling to Pila to renew his vehicle’s registration with gasoline just enough to reach Sta. Cruz which is his usual route for work, but since he needed to go to Pila, he had to buy another liter of gasoline.
“Problema rin kasi yan. Aksaya siya sa gas kung kaya medyo magastos talaga ang magparehistro,” Mang Emer added. He also shared his concern that the money he spends for additional gasoline to reach Pila should be the money he could use to for the medication of his wife.
Those who commute, on the other hand, would save on fare: a one-way trip costs P67 per person for a tricycle and two jeepney rides, but one way will now cost only P12 for a short tricycle ride. Other people could also just walk from their homes to the office.
Most of the drivers find it a waste of time renewing their license and registering their vehicles in LTO Pila. Usually, they spend more than half a day to fix everything, which is a big blow on their income. With a nearer LTO branch, drivers could go through the usual procedures and still have lots of time left to earn a living. This would also mean less chances of paying penalty fees for late registration.
According to Engr. Borjal, two kinds of penalties are imposed for late registration. One is the weekly penalty which can cost a driver additional Php 200 on top of the Php 2,000 Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC). This is applied to registrations one to three weeks after deadline.The other type is the monthly penalty applied when owners fail to register their vehicles months after deadline.
The registration process is guided by the Quality Management System (QMS). Under this, vehicle registration should take only 30 minutes. The process from QMS has its assigned time table and time allotment per step. This includes submission of necessary documents to the evaluator, which should take six minutes; approval of the documents, four minutes,;payment, 10 minutes; and release of the sticker, 10 minutes.
Engr. Borjal, however, said that they are unable to strictly observe the timetable, in spite of using QMS, due to other pre-registration procedures like the smoke emission test, filing of third-party liability insurance, and vehicle inspection, all of which last for more than three hours. Vehicle owners find the process too long because the information being communicated by the LTO says that it is only a 30-minute process and does not include the pre-registration activities mentioned earlier.
Also, there is limited staff in the Pila office; they can attend to only a limited number of renewals, causing delays and the imposition of penalties, especially on the last few days leading to the deadline. Engr. Borjal also said that the Pila office serves not only the 14 towns in the fourth district but also vehicle owners and drivers from Calauan, Bay and Victoria, which are all part of the second district. He also added that some people going to their office come from Infanta and Real, Quezon.
With only an average of 450 drivers and vehicle owners served daily, there is backlog, resulting in late processing and penalties. Through the construction of LTO in Famy, these problems will be lessened.
On penalties, Emer said: “Di maiiwasan na magmulta ka kasi malayo ang Pila. Kahit na dalawang daan yung babayaran mo, malaking pera na yun para sa tulad kong isang drayber.”
Long to short process
The construction of LTO in Famy will also make the process shorter. According to Coun. Mialdo, it will now take fewer hours to finish the registration and renewal. The future LTO office in Famy will also cater to six nearby towns namely Sta. Maria, Mabitac, Siniloan, Pakil, Pangil and Paete. The office will be able to serve an average of 5,500 drivers from the seven towns that will make the process for registration shorter.
Mang Emer shared his experience of spending hours sitting and waiting in Pila LTO before finishing the whole registration process. “Isang mahirap sa pagpunta sa LTO ay yung mahabang pila ng tao, araw araw kasi ay dagsa ang tao kaya tumatagal din ang proseso.”
Aside from Famy, Liliw in the second district and Sta. Rosa City in the first district have also requested for their own LTO branches. Liliw has been approved and construction will begin also before the year ends; Sta. Rosa is still being processed.
Renewal would have been easier after LTO launched the “E-Patrol Project” in June 2011, which aims to serve vehicle owners from far flung areas. It is a mobile office in the form of a bus going around the country to ease the burden of cost and waste of time when registering. This project, however, was stopped. Engr. Borja said it was due to financial constraints.
But for this year, the LTO is pushing to relaunch the said project.
Back in Famy, Coun. Mialdo said that it would take about one year for construction work to finish. After that, LTO staff can serve drivers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But Mang Emer is happy with that.
“Malaking tulong talaga siya sa amin lalo na sa akin dahil ako lang yung kumikita sa pamilya naming kaya makakatipid ako at mas mabibigyan ko ng pansin yung gamot ng asawa ko,” he said. (Earl Gio Manuel)