A FEW issues back I wrote a column commending the plan of the Land Transportation Office to mandate all duly licensed drivers to undergo exams (written and practical) before they can have their licenses renewed.

But I guess I have to retract my commendation because of a forgetful experience at the hands of an LTO licensing division employee in an LTO branch in Pangasinan.

Earlier this month, I applied for a non-professional driver’s license, and went through the mandatory drug testing and the written examination (a multiple choice type of exam).

An hour later, the result of the written examination was released and I received a poor grade of 23 out of 40, which was not enough to pass the test since the cut-off grade is 30.

As a result, I asked the LTO employee in the division the next step I should take. She told me I had to take a re-test or if I didn’t want to take the test, I had another option.

“Kung gusto mo, tutulungan na lang kita,” the employee told me.

I told her that I would just take the exam again. Nevertheless, she told me, “kung bagsak ka pa rin sa re-test, tutulungan kita. Hanapin mo lang ako.”

That was it. Although her words were equivocal, they only meant that I should pay grease money in order that I could get a driver’s license. I don’t need to be a law student to understand what she was implying.

I could not believe I flunked the test. But what was more shocking was that the fixers are the employees themselves.

To cut the story short, my father, who is a lawyer, went to that LTO branch a few days later to take a look at my examination paper and find out what my mistakes were. But before my father could take a look at my original exam, the licensing division chief said there was a mistake in the checking of my paper and that I really got a score of 30. Afterwards, the licensing division chief explained to my father the wrong answers I chose.

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Healthy discontent leads to progress

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My LTO experience is something that happens in other branches. Most of my friends tell me that they got their driver’s licenses after paying grease money in lieu of a written exam or for the correct answers in the exam.

No wonder why we have too many erring drivers. They just pay their way to their licenses.

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To avoid these instances, the government should implement a new system in the administering of the written exam, where there is less human intervention. A computerized system, like the system being implemented in the checking of entrance exams in some Manila universities, could help solve the problem.

I hope the government acts on this problem with dispatch if only to ensure that roads are safe from unqualified drivers.

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