Wisdom > Spoiler

Why does driving a motor vehicle require a license?

In case the reason isn’t clear and serious enough to many

Just how do you respect licenses when venal fixers continue to proliferate out there? PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

A license, in very simple terms, is an official permit to do or engage in something. Without it, taking part in any activity that requires one is illegal. A license is usually a must for undertakings that have dire or far-reaching consequences.

Notice the list of professions that necessitate a license: medicine, law, engineering, architecture, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, psychology, teaching and accounting. In order for you to practice any of the above-mentioned occupations, you need to secure a license that basically affirms your proficiency in a specific field. This is so because incompetence at these jobs could result in death, injury, trauma or financial ruin. These pursuits, in other words, are never to be taken lightly.

Flying a drone also requires a license. Why? Because the thing could cause significant damage. Just the other day, I personally witnessed a camera drone getting disrupted by electric cables and violently plummeting to the ground. Good thing it didn’t hit anyone, but it did strike a parked SUV. Authorities insist on issuing licenses to drone owners precisely because these gadgets could easily go haywire in the hands of inexperienced operators.

You know what else could kill or maim in the hands of nincompoops? Cars. If you think about it, those seemingly harmless transporters that take us from A to B are really land-bound missiles. Piloted by an expert and safe driver, a motor vehicle is a useful tool for improving and enjoying life. But steered by an inept and reckless chauffeur, an automobile becomes a deadly weapon that can snuff the life out of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. A license (supposedly) is what should be making the distinction between the two—and what should be preventing the latter from ever stepping on a gas pedal.

We live in the Philippines, a country where driver’s licenses can be bought and fixed—where driver’s licenses are sold on social media

But hey, we live in the Philippines. A country where everything is permissible—where driver’s licenses can be bought and fixed. Indeed, a country where driver’s licenses are sold on social media. Which should scare the shit out of you. There was a time when assholes had to venture their way to Quiapo or Recto and deal with shady characters face-to-face if they wanted counterfeit licenses. These days, a quick license can be had with just a few clicks of a laptop’s trackpad. The racketeers even advertise their services on Facebook. I’ve reported one such post to a high-ranking official of the Department of Transportation, and I honestly don’t know if anything will come out of it.

I truly find it hard to believe the authorities are clueless about what’s happening. They’re aware; they just don’t care. You know how they put up “DON’T DEAL WITH FIXERS” posters inside Land Transportation Office compounds, and yet said fixers freely roam the premises? Our transport officials know what’s up, believe me. Either they’re just too lazy to do anything, or they’re also part of the whole scam to begin with.

I dare them to prove me wrong by throwing offenders in jail. These criminals are out there mocking the system and putting potential murderers behind the wheel. They’re out there deploying unfit drivers who share the road with our loved ones. They’re out there laughing at the license cards law-abiding motorists have fought fair and square to acquire.

When will the Philippine driver’s license stop being a joke?

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.