SC junks LTO license case

The SC did not find meritorious the claim of petitioner ATM that the issues raised were of ‘transcendental public importance’ to waive the rule on legal standing

September 13, 2022

The Supreme Court has junked a petition that questioned the Land Transportation Office’s 2017 award of an P836-million project for the manufacture of drivers’ licenses.

In a 26-page decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the SC Second Division held that the petitioner, the Anti-Trapo Movement, has no legal personality to question the legality of the deal.

The deal between LTO and the joint venture of Nextix, Dermalog Identification Systems and CFP Strategic Transaction Advisors covered the procurement of eight million plastic license cards with five-year validities.

“The Court will only exercise the power of judicial review if the action is brought by a party who has legal standing to raise the constitutional or legal question,” part of the ruling read.

It explained that legal standing pertains to “a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged.”

The SC did not find meritorious the claim of petitioner ATM that the issues raised were of “transcendental public importance” to waive the rule on legal standing.

The group claimed it filed the petition to protect the government from an anomalous contract allegedly “manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the Filipino people.”

It claimed that LTO gravely abused its discrection when it awarded the contract to Dermalog after the lowest bidder Banner Plasticard, Inc. was disqualified for purportedly being non-responsive to the bid requirements.

The ATM claimed the LTO failed to resolve Banner’s request for reconsideration before awarding the contract to Dermalog.

The petitioner pointed out that the cost of a single driver’s license card was P89.71 under Banner’s bid, while the cost under Dermalog’s bid was P99.16, higher by 10.53 percent.

Since 8.36 million driver’s license cards were required to be produced, the difference between the two bids would amount to an overprice of P79,668,053.55, according to the petition.

But the SC pointed out that the claim of “transcendental importance” must be backed by proper allegations as its plain invocation does not suffice for the Court to set aside procedural requirements.

“While a substantial amount of public funds was involved in the procurement of driver’s license cards, petitioner fell short of establishing that respondent blatantly disregarded relevant constitutional and statutory prohibitions in awarding the contract to Dermalog,” the SC said.

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