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Philippines LTO accused of delaying switch to Dermalog system, costing motorists

Philippines LTO accused of delaying switch to Dermalog system, costing motorists

An investigation has been launched in the Philippines into corruption allegations against Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Assistant Secretary Vigor Mendoza II.

The LTO is responsible for driver’s license applications and other services that involve biometric authentication. The agency awarded a contract to Dermalog and local partners back in 2018, and has been criticized for delays in comments by government officials that were subsequently walked back.

An open letter was placed in local media by representatives of half-a-dozen transportation and governance organizations and reprinted by Rappler. They accuse Mendoza of failing to advance the new Land Transport Management System (LTMS), supported by Dermalog, and to fully sunset the legacy system. This has resulted in Filipinos paying fees to the previous technology provider, even in the absence of an ongoing contract with the LTO. The change in fees to the new system were supposed to save Filipino drivers 5 billion pesos (approximately US$89.5 million) a year, they say.

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista ordered the probe.

Mendoza is the fourth person to head the LTO since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. became the Philippines’ president in mid-2022.

He says the complaints filed with the Ombudsman are over two issues which he has been grappling with since taking the position, calling them “totally baseless and absurd.”

“On the digitalization for instance, we have already successfully consolidated all the online transactions using the LTMS, which means the transactions now are more convenient and hassle-free for all our clients. And this was done in just four months after I assumed office,” he says in an official statement.

“Meanwhile, your LTO is on the right track of addressing the millions of backlogs in the license plates since we are now producing one million metal plates a month.”

GMA News Online reports that Mendoza also claims the LTMS is already handling 97 percent of vehicle transactions.

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