This is what the records section of LTO's main branch looks like

Not a pretty sight, but things will get better
by Paulo Rafael Subido | Aug 29, 2019
PHOTO: Paulo Rafael Subido

During a recent trip to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) main branch in East Avenue, Quezon City, I was given an interesting tour of the complex by Benjamin Santiago III, regional director of the LTO NCR East. We were chatting about the earthquakes that hit the city not too long ago, and how there was some damage done to the buildings within the LTO complex. One room that was shown to me was the roof space above one of the offices. As you can see in the photo above, the weight of the paper is threatening to damage the integrity of the ceiling.

“The plan was to scan the records to be digitized,” shares Santiago. “Cars for registration renewal will be given a system ID that is inside of the database. For those other cars that have not yet been renewed, there is a hard copy on hand. These files have not been put into the database yet. Those are the files in the pictures—the records that are moldy already, or have been eaten by termites.”

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The LTO is currently lacking appropriate funding to expand the records room. And just to be clear, there is a records room on the ground floor—with active records—that is already at capacity. The dormant records are the ones stored in the ceiling as can be seen in the photo. If you have a classic car from the ’60s of ’70s that has become an heirloom and have not renewed the registration, the papers are most probably still in those piles.

Santiago says that if the LTO office changes locations, he’d have to transport mountains of paper with him to the next office. He says that his project is to have all of the documents scanned so that he can have them thrown away. “I even wrote a letter to the national archives asking for their permission to dispose of these papers after they have been digitized,” he recounts. “But there’s a rule. A certain amount of time has to pass before I can throw them away. But some of these papers cannot even be read! The writing has faded. These papers are too old already.”

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Santiago says that records of cars are like birth certificates. “If the NSO stayed with paper, well. At least they are digitized now,” he explains. “Any time you need your birth certificate or marriage certificate it is there. But these are LTO records of cars and not of people, so this isn’t a priority of the government. But they won’t let us get rid of these papers. Health hazard na! These piles of records are threatening to fall through the ceiling and hurt the people working on the ground level. It is an accident waiting to happen.”

If you see that the records of your classic car are stored this way, you would be pretty upset. And if your place of work was directly underneath this room, you’d be worried, too.

What do you think should be done about the LTO’s predicament? Do leave a comment.

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PHOTO: Paulo Rafael Subido
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