LTO: Driver’s License Renewal

It actually took me less than 30 minutes to renew my driver’s license. How about that?

I was expecting it to take half a day based on my previous experience. The Land Transportation Office (LTO) finally got rid of the drug testing portion of the license renewal process, which required an applicant to submit urine samples by filling up urine sample bottles handed out by the drug testing agencies at the LTO office. This was more time-wasting than it was effective.

This turned out to be a good thing. If you think of it, any drug user could easily bypass this measure. They simply stop using drugs long enough to get it completely out of their system – enough to be undetected when they renew their license. As for non-drug users, the hassle usually happens when it comes to collecting the urine samples. Some people had to drink several bottles of water – and even wait an entire business day – just to be able to pee.

Here’s wishing for additional improvements from our government agencies.

Defective Philippine e-passports

A few weeks ago, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) admitted that around 10,000 e-passports were found to be defective. The defective e-passports were said to belong to the EB 000-0001 to EB 126-7350 range. The DFA urges all passport holders whose passports belong to the said series to have their passports replaced – which will be free of charge.

Looking back, I remember having passport-related problems a couple of years ago when my old passport’s cover page got detached when someone tried to photocopy it. This effectively rendered my passport invalid and so I had to apply for a replacement. Several delays throughout the replacement process, which lasted for about a month, caused a lot of inconvenience and prevented me from reporting back to work in Singapore.

Guess what my old passport number was. EB 050-XXXX. Bummer. :-/

Bus falls off Manila Skyway

Another vehicle fell off the Manila Skyway at dawn the other day. It was a commuter bus this time. What’s worse is that it landed on top of a closed van traversing the service road below. Parts of the crash debris also hit an unsuspecting bicycle rider.

According to news reports, at least 18 people died and a lot more were injured. The question that’s being asked now is who’s to blame for this tragedy?

Investigators surmised that the bus must have been traveling over a hundred kilometers per hour before plunging to its doom. One eyewitness said that the bus overtook her car, which she said was running around 80kph, just before it hydroplaned, lost control, hit the Skyway barrier, and fell off. The speed limit for buses along the Skyway is pegged at 80kph.

Other factors that might have contributed to the accident include the overall roadworthiness state of the bus and the capability of the driver (driver error).

Investigators are still looking into the possibility that the bus wasn’t road worthy. As for the driver error angle, it’s a well known fact that majority of the bus drivers plying through Manila’s streets are reckless speed demons. One reason why this is so is because their pay is based on the passenger fare that they collect, hence the inherent desire to compete with other busses to get passengers and to drive as fast as they can in order to make more trips.

This isn’t the first time a vehicle fell off the Skyway, and it probably won’t be the last – at least until drivers learn to be responsible and disciplined enough to follow road safety signs and observe good driving etiquette.

In the end, it falls upon the government to protect the general public. One way or the other, they have to ensure that traffic discipline is enforced as well as offending drivers and operators are punished accordingly.

Goodbye ‘RP’, hello ‘PH’ (or ‘PHL’)!

Did you know that the Philippine Department of Foreign affairs recently decided to adopt PH (or PHL) as the official acronym of the Republic of the Philippines, instead of the ‘RP’ moniker?

The DFA Secretary issued an order last October 20 directing all Philippine embassies and consulate offices around the world to drop the ‘RP’ tag and use ‘PH’, or ‘PHL’, instead.

This directive finally makes us ‘standards compliant’ with regards to the country code standard defined by the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO.

This is a welcome change although it might take a while for most people to get used to. (In sports, try to imagine cheering for our Filipino athletes/contingent while shouting “Go Team PH!” or “Go PH Team!”, instead of the usual “Go RP Team!”)

But…. come to think of it, on a broader scale, you’ll probably notice that the ‘RP’ tag isn’t used much anyway — particularly in the internet. If you take a look at social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter — or even in daily email correspondence — people actually do tend to use ‘PH’ more. You’ll see “PH-time”, “PHP”, and in its most obvious form — in internet domain names, where we use .ph, instead of .rp as a top level domain name.

Reference Sites:
GMANews.tv: Philippine diplomats will now use PH or PHL instead of RP
Philstar.com: DFA junks ‘RP’ for ‘PH’ or ‘PHL’

DFA Passport Appointment System

The Philippine department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has implemented a new passport processing system. Philippine passport applications and appointments must now be done online via the official DFA passport application website at http://www.passport.com.ph.

Please note the following:

  • The DFA will not entertain applicants without valid appointments.
  • Please note that if you place multiple appointments, your previous appointments will be automatically canceled.
  • All Saturday Appointments is for rush processing only
  • Applicants with 7:00AM or 7:30AM appointment may go to the DFA for their passport application from 8:00AM onwards on their appointment date.
  • Passport pictures shall also be taken at the DFA premises.