Legal battle over plastic card contract puts over 1.7
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Legal battle over plastic card contract puts over 1.7

May 25, 2023

Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Vigor Mendoza II has expressed confidence that a Quezon City court would eventually lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued on the awarding of contract for the production of plastic cards that are being used in the printing of the physical driver’s license.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Aug. 17, Mendoza also questioned the arguments raised by the Allcards Inc., the losing bidder on the production of plastic cards, on the issue of fair and transparent conduct of the bidding process.

“The bidding underwent a fair and transparent process. While I was not still the LTO chief when the bidding process was done, my initial review of the documents revealed that it went through a proper procedure,” said Mendoza, who is a lawyer by profession.

But Mendoza said he will leave the legal discussion before the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 215 between the lawyers of the Allcards Inc. and the Office of the Solicitor General that will represent the Department of Transportation and the LTO.

The court, which issued the 20-day TRO, set the hearing on Aug. 22.

This early, Mendoza expressed confidence that the court will be able to appreciate the arguments that would be raised by government lawyers in refuting the allegations made by Allcards in the case it filed.

What went before

In a press briefing in April this year, then LTO chief JayArt Tugade said that their procurement of plastic cards did not push through because of the DOTr order to centralize the procurement of services and items that cost P50 million and above.

The DOTr memo, Tugade said, was received by the LTO in January this year.

Tugade later resigned due to differences with the DOTr.

In a bid to solve the issue of shortage of the plastic cards, the DOTr held a bidding process which was won by Banner Plasticard, Inc.

The first delivery of the plastic cards was made late July this year and at present, Banner Plasticards already delivered around 100,000 plastic cards.

Temporary setback

Mendoza said the TRO issued by a Quezon City court is just a temporary setback since what was issued was not a permanent injunction for the Banner Plasticards to refrain from producing and delivering plastic cards to the LTO.

“This is just for 20 days, the hearing is already on August 22. By that time, we are confident that the court will see that there is no basis for permanent injunction, which means that the TRO could be lifted,’ said Mendoza.

“This is what the OSG would certainly do, for the early lifting of the TRO,” he added.

What grave, irreparable damage?

As a lawyer, Mendoza said the legal contention on the case filed by Allcards would all boil down to the issue of grave and irreparable damage.

And for Mendoza, he said he does not see any reason that the awarding of the contract to the Banner Plasticard constitutes grave and irreparable damage.

“What would Allcards Inc lose in the awarding of the contract to Banner Plasticards? The contract is subject to pecuniary estimation, which means that the discussion focuses on the money,” said Mendoza.

“So there is no grave and irreparable damage to that. And if there is no grave and irreparable damage, the public interest should prevail over the business interest of one or two,” he stressed.

Bigger picture

As the LTO chief, Mendoza said his focus is on the continuous production and delivery of plastic cards especially that the backlog on the physical driver’s license is mounting.

Based on the LTO data as of present, the backlog on the physical driver’s license is already at 1.7 million across the country.

And it continues to mount every day since the LTO is receiving around 23,000 applications for new and renewal of driver’s license on a daily basis.

The Banner Plastic cards has committed to deliver around one million plastic cards by the end of September and Medoza said that at that delivery rate, they would be able to address half of the backlog by the end of next month.

If the production and delivery would continue, Mendoza said the LTO would be able to address all the backlog on physical driver’s license before the end of this year.

The Banner Plasticard is expected to deliver around 5.2 million plastic cards as stated in the contract and Mendoza said they expect the entire delivery of the commitment by January or February this year.

The completion of the delivery, he said, would give the LTO more than enough supply of plastic cards until next year.