Friday, July 4, 2008

Fixers at LTO are Dressed in Uniform

Motor vehicle registration is a big burden to car owners. Not only in complying with the registration requirements but the processing will entail lots of time before you can come up with the last table. Your obligations will not stop at the releasing window but with the fixers who facilitated and followed-up your documents inside the office.
 
I went to the Land Transportation Office(LTO) in Muntinlupa branch, few days ago, for the renewal of car registration. I saw to it that the car maintenance, engine parts, and car accessories are in good condition after consulting a car mechanic from a reputable auto repair shop. I was the one who made the stencil prints of the engine number, body/chassis number of the motor vehicle, and filled the required information on the LTO registration forms I secured prior to the registration schedule. In short and in my assessments, the car is fit and then brought it to the said LTO office. I was directed for emission standards check at a shop inside the LTO compound. I noticed a number of red-uniformed attendants assisting the vehicle owners and I praised LTO for the display of public assistance at hand. As I approached the emission shop, a uniformed attendant assisted me for a parking space. He suggested doing the stencilling of body and engine numbers, to make the necessary follow-ups, avoid the long line of queuing, and other requirements for a minimal fee. I courteously declined the offer and said: “I can manage, I been doing this a number of years, thank you.” He proceeded with another client while I waited for my assigned number (no. 63, assumed) to be called.
 
I spent two hours before my car is subjected to a harsh emission test. As they stepped on the acceleration pedal, I worried for the amount of fuel spent to determine the level of pollutants set on the emission standard –it’s an added expense in the registration knowing the unabated increases of the fuel price. The shop was already crowded, it was the deadline of registration of motor vehicles whose plate number is scheduled in the month of June –everyone is fond of beating the deadline.
 
Again, I have to wait for the written results of the emission test. I thought to attend to some personal necessities but I opted to stay, I feared of being by-passed when my number is called. And that’s it. After a long wait, I noticed there are other registrants who came late but were called ahead of me! “Why is this so?” I asked myself and kept my patience in control. Another two, again were called ahead of me! This time I called the attention of the desk and inquired for my written results. “Please bear with us, the results are being processed on-line and there are problems with our base computer,” the desk defensively replied. “And why there are results of those who came late,” I retorted. He was muted and obviously offended. He got inside the cashier’s booth, stayed there for minutes and brought out the thick-filed results.
 
In that emission test alone, I spent three hours. I was made to understand later that within the emission shop the transactions between the fixers and LTO regular employees are made; the fixer’s fee, the “grease” money, and the car insurance. You are required to get and pay the car insurance, which is the “Third Party Liability Insurance” or the TPL coverage, from which they serve as personal agent. I have argued sometimes in another venue with this insurance scam. I presented an insurance policy, which is the Comprehensive Car Insurance, thinking that it will suffice the insurance requirement of LTO. It was rejected. They insisted that the TPL is the requirement and I was obliged to have this kind of additional insurance policy. This insurance requirement is another source of graft and evil practices of LTO. This should be corrected to lessen the burden on the paying public.
 
It was already lunchtime and my registration papers were not on sight. I overheard somebody telling me: “You have to invite them for lunch or it will gather dust in the rack.” Disgusted, I walked alone in the nearby canteen, took some foods, and have some cool sightseeing tour in the adjacent and newly built SM Mall.
 
I returned at past 2 p.m. with the assumption that my papers were already done. But I was told they wanted to see my EWD! “What?” “Your Early Warning Device.” Oh! My ghost! “You should have inspected it before taking my papers in,” I retaliated with a loud voice.
 
It was done and my papers were brought again inside. Another obstacle cropped up! It was the 3 o’clock habit snacks. Oh! Again!! My! My! …“Why are they crucifying me?” Afterwards and holding my temper and answering some awkward questions within myself, it was finally finished and ah… a sigh of relief.
 
Another client arrived and talked directly with the uniformed-red-shirt attendant. He silently hummed in the fixer’s ear covering his lips with his hand. It appeared they approvingly agreed with the nodding of their heads and then smiling like a bare-teeth- dog. He followed further: “Can it be accommodated?” while looking at his watch. Then I heard the fixer said: “It’s over in fifteen minutes.”
 
I bowed and swung my head and then said to myself: “It took me eight hours without the fixer’s help.”

1 comment:

Sandro Sanchez said...

Do not be surprised anymore..these issues at LTO have long been in practice for ages. I even know of someone bragging to be working for an association who claims to be legal (is there an association of fixers that are legal?!?) The woman fixer gave me a quote of 80% higher than what one should just regularly pay for a DL renewal) Hindi man lang namutla ang matandang ito---anay ng lipunan!!!