The Driver's License in the Philippines is a Joke

We all posses in our wallets, a great testament to the inefficiency of government and de facto tolerance for corruption and bureaucracy.

I recently lost my driver's license and had to go to LTO (Land Transportation Office) to acquire another one. This reminded me of the first time I got my driver's license in their Las PiƱas branch. I am guessing we all had a similar experience.

driver's license Philippines

I was young and excited to be able to drive. At that time, there was a certain freedom in being able to drive your own car and finally the time has come when the state thinks that I can be allowed to do so.

And so I didn't care that I waited for almost 8 hours. I didn't care that I was burning in the summer heat while the bureaucrats were comfortable inside their air conditioned offices provided by taxpayers. I was even happy to see that the "written exam" already had all the answers. And what more that there was no longer a need for a practical exam.

It didn't bother me that they took my piss because they deemed me guilty until proven innocent. My piss, where people can test not just for drugs but also for diseases such as diabetes, STDs, or for girls even pregnancy. Truly very private information that can be extracted from what I consider to be one's own private property.

There was nothing these bureaucrats can do to annoy me because I wanted something that they could provide for me: a plastic card that supposedly proves I am fit and ready for the open road.

And so now I realize that we all went through the same process of fake exams and long waits. It's actually no different from getting your license from the pirates of Recto in a sense that for as long as you have money, you can acquire a driver's license. It doesn't matter if you don't know the road rules or road safety procedures. All you need is to be of the right age and some cash and the state will provide you this plastic card.

It is a dangerous joke that we all tolerate. Really, we are all no different from teenage drivers who shrug off corruption and loss of liberty in exchange for the right to drive.


  1. This story also make me remind of the first time I got my car driver's license, I think its a common story with everyone who goes to be register his /her license.

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  2. LTO and Recto, what a comparison! I think you're right. People are just used to it and see no danger in doing so.


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