Leaving a Legacy by C. de los Angeles
On July 27, 2022 President Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos Jr finally named Atty. Teofilo Guadiz III as head of the Land Transportation Office. During his first week in office, the new LTO Chief issued his first 2 contradictory memos.
On August 1, LTO Chief Guadiz wrote Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa requesting him to reactivate the previous system of STRADCOM instead of fully using LTO’s new system, the Land Transportation Management System developed by DERMALOG which was only started being used days prior to the appointment of the LTO Chief.
On August 10, the Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (PIRA) as represented by its Executive Director Michael Rellosa wrote Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa to protest the contradictory memo by LTO Chief Guadiz by explaining that new system was custom made in partnership between LTO and IC to ensure transparency and prevent graft and corruption. The new system, LTMS, is free to use and no upload fees are charged as compared to the system of STRADCOM which charges for every document you upload to their system. Finally, PIRA Executive Director Rellosa reminded the Insurance Commission that the new system was just recently invested and implemented among their members and that reverting to the previous STRADCOM system, which does not have the necessary safeguards will be adverse to their industry and the common good.
The second contradictory memo issued by LTO Chief Guadiz during his first week dated August 2, orders all LTO-accredited driving schools to use STRADCOM’s ACES system for uploading all Theoretical Driving Course and Practical Driving Course Certificates, again reversing the ongoing migration to LTO’s newly created LTMS.
During the administration of President Benigno Aquino III in 2011, the LTO ordered for the procurement of a new LTO IT system worth Php 8.2 Billion. Due to a much publicized internal squabble of Stradcom which the courts issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), jeopardized the operations of LTO and the public. STRADCOM’s contract with LTO expired on February 2013 during their ongoing squabble and to prevent further damage to the public, the government allowed the extension of the contract through emergency purchase.
The aging system of STRADCOM with the LTO was a contract under a BOO or Build Operate and Own. STRADCOM owned all the servers, computers used in the operation of the system of LTO. On top of being paid by the LTO, they charged fees to the public and other stakeholders which according to Dermalog spokesperson, Atty. Nikki de Vega reached billions yearly for the private contractor.
During a recent privilege speech in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Bernadette Herrera went further to highlight the hostage of the database by STRADCOM and their ridiculous contract, in which even tables and chairs in various offices used by the LTO were owned by STRADCOM and cannot be used by the new LTO IT contractor, DERMALOG when visiting various LTO offices.
In 2016, after years of “unsettled disputes” and problems with previous IT supplier, STRADCOM, the Department of Transportation reached a one year phase out agreement to allow the LTO to select a new IT consult to develop LTO’s own system which will be FREE to the public. For his part, then DOTr Sec. Art Tugade shared how he was assured by Stradcom that “they will do their part in helping the smooth migration of data to the next IT provider.”
2018 DOTr awarded the joint venture of DERMALOG for the creation of LTO’s new system, LTMS. Dermalog spokesperson, Atty. de Vega, explained that the LTMS system has been ready with all functionality based on the agreed Terms of Reference when the project was awarded. “In fact, last 2021 the LTO issued a certificate of final acceptance.” she explains.
Atty. de Vega narrated the challenges of the project, “Since the awarding the project, DERMALOG has experienced strong resistance from the previous IT provider. Until today, we are still demanding the complete turnover of the database which is hurting the public and causing undue delays. The data is the People’s data and should not be held hostage by a private contractor.”
In the Commission of Audit’s 2021 report on DOTr, they wrote a strongly worded demand for LTO “to compel Stradcom to turnover the data…” “DERMALOG, for its part has been finding ways to work around this hindrance so they can complete their deliverables and deliver a swift experience for the public.” explains Atty. de Vega.
“In fact, you can see the various comments of netizens online, commending the speed of transactions of LTO with renewal of driver’s licenses as fast as 10 mins.” de Vega adds.
DERMALOG Spokesperson, Atty. Nikki de Vega warns LTO, “LTO’s non delivery of the data held by Stradcom is a breach of the terms in the contract with DOTr. The system is ready and LTO should utilize the program 100% along with all its functionalities so the public can judge for themselves how fast and efficient the new LTMS system is. The previous contractor no longer has contract with the LTO, they agreed to a phase out period which has long been due, therefore the system of the previous IT provider should no longer be used and they should cease charging FEES to the public. Why does the LTO Chief Guadiz continue to want to go back to the previous privately owned system instead of using LTO’s own LTMS system? Why does he insist on letting the previous IT provider charge FEES which is FREE in LTO’s new system? If he truly wants to lower the costs of transactions, the obvious answer would be to use LTMS 100%.”