My PRC license expired last August. (Professional Regulation Commission — editor)
Though I still lack a few CPD units, I decided to renew my license this December while the required renewal units was just 30 (if I renew next year, the required units would be 45).
I managed to make an account for myself and register on the PRC website (which frequently reverts to “Under Maintenance” every few minutes), and secure a morning schedule for my preferred date. They issued a reference number which one is supposed to take a screen shot of to show at the PRC office.
I arrived at 9:45 a.m. at Robinson’s Las Pinas.
The mall was still closed but the guard at the basement parking advised me to wait near the Verandah (open strip mall) as the PRC office was nearer there. Upon arrival at the Verandah entrance, the guard advised me to wait for another 5 minutes.
At 10:00, the mall finally opened and upon my entry to the office itself, I was surprised to see a LOT of people were inside already.
There were only 2 employees present: a man wearing polo barong wearing an ID card (positioned in front of the counters) and whom a lot of people were inquiring from (doorman or guard, I couldn’t quite figure out), and another man wearing a collared t-shirt with no ID card and behind the counter marked Releasing.
There were two groups of chairs (separated by an aisle) and a long line of chairs behind the two groups. The man in polo barong announced that those who have not paid yet have to take a seat in front of the counter marked Cashier, while those who have paid may take a seat in front of the counters in front of Application, Registration, Renewal, and Releasing.
I promptly took my seat in front of the Cashier. Those seated in the “paid” group were moving in their queue quite quickly as the man in charge of Releasing and Renewal of ID cards was swift in his work.
Quite a few people were already complaining about the lack of employees present and if there was a separate queue for senior citizens, pregnant, and PWD. The man in polo barong announced that he will call the latter soon as the Cashier arrives.
At 10:26, two men in collared polo shirt with no ID cards (surprise) sauntered in and took their seats behind the counters marked Application and Cashier.
Finally, the queue for the Cashier started moving and within 15 minutes, it was my turn to pay. I approached the counter, handed the man my mobile phone which had a picture of my reference number, settled the amount, and he issued me a receipt without a word. (My colleagues already told me that after this procedure, I would need to go to a computer shop in the 2nd floor of the mall to print the form or conforme for my lacking CPD units.)
I tested the Cashier by asking him, “What’s next?” “Akyat po kayo sa 2nd floor.” That’s all the information he offered, not making eye contact or even looking up from his computer. There were a lot of people there who did not know what to do and where to go. Some were senior citizens who were unaccompanied by someone who could help them with the computer.
There were no guidelines or steps posted on the bare walls of the office. The employees were not helpful at all. If you don’t ask them, they will not offer any information. If you were deaf-mute, you wouldn’t hear the other people asking around or helping other applicants.
I made my way to the 2nd floor of the mall (take the escalators near Toys R Us) and make a u-turn immediately and look for Klaz computer store or the person ahead of you in the queue. (It was easier to spot the long queue as it had spilled out of the shop and into the mall.)
While waiting, I could see and hear those seated in front of the computer units complaining that the PRC site was down again.
After 10 minutes, I was able to have a unit to myself and logged into the PRC website to access my account.
Unfortunately, though I was able to log in, it showed that my profile (which I had filled out at home and uploaded with my photo) was incomplete and that I had no existing transaction. I refreshed the webpage several times but it showed the same. Meanwhile, the elderly lady next to me was able to access her account and her screen showed the form that she needed to print.
I decided to leave and try accessing my account at home. I paid the computer shop attendant 15 pesos for the few minutes I used their computer. Those who were successful in accessing their form paid 30 pesos for printing and the minutes used.
I stopped by the PRC office again and inquired from the man in the Releasing section about my dilemma. He listened to me without looking up from his computer and told me to wait. After 2 minutes, he told me to go to the Application window, much to my dismay (why make me wait if you will only refer me to your colleague?!).
I recounted my problem to the next employee and again, without looking up, the man just told me “Baka down po yung site.” I simply said that yes, at times it would be down but the other applicants were able to access their account and the forms, and mine simply said there was no record even if I was issued a reference number and was able to pay the fee earlier.
Since he was too busy to look up and could not conjure an answer, I left already, obviously feeling quite frustrated and disappointed.
Upon arriving home, I accessed my account which showed my complete profile with photo, despite the site switching from working to under maintenance from time to time. I printed my complete profile (to make sure I had something to show them) and the page which showed no existing transaction.
Before 2 p.m., I was back at the PRC office. This time, the place was empty save for 3 applicants.
The man from the Cashier window was now sitting under the Releasing window. I showed him my printed forms and explained the problem to him. This time, he was more chatty and said, “Naku, baket po nagka ganun? Pa-antay na lang po yung isa, kumakain lang po.” He was referring me to the employee in the Application window whom I espied sitting somewhere in the back of the counters.
Less than 5 minutes later, he was back at his window, I approached him, and he asked for my receipt. He went on his computer and next thing I knew, he had a printed copy of the form that I needed. He gave it to me without uttering any word and without any charge. (Yay! Saved me 30 pesos and the hassle of going to the computer shop! Umm, no, I only saved 15 pesos because I had earlier paid the computer shop for usage.)
Then he tells me to take a seat because (you guessed it!) person in charge of Releasing the cards was still eating (whatever happend to “No lunch break”? Okay, okay, I get it that they have to eat too so I just sat down and waited.)
After a few minutes, I submitted my signed form, without filling out the blank portions for the lacking CPD units. I had assumed that they would ask for my certificates and cross check the units I had earned and that they would write it on the form. However, he just asked for photocopies of the certificates (which I already brought) and then released my ID card and asked me to sign the log book that I had claimed my card.
I asked him if I had to fill out the information with regard to earned and lacking units. He simply said no. Less than 10 minutes inside the office, I was done. I made an effort to say thank you as I was passing by their windows.
While I was thankful that there is a PRC office near my residence and workplace (I overheard some applicants saying that the Galleria branch was full or that there were no appointment slots open, only Las Pinas had slots, so they had to travel here), that was relatively new and with good airconditioning, there are still a lot of basic areas that the said office could improve on.
First, to have their employees come on time. Most everyone who were there are 10 a.m. had to leave work or were late for work just so they could make it to their morning appointment. I understand that getting to work is more challenging now that Christmas is approaching, however, if the applicants were able to make it on time, perhaps the employees could have left their homes earlier as well and anticipated the traffic jams.
Second, have signs on the step by step procedure. They were able to put up some Christmas decor but there were no signs of any sort guiding applicants on what to do. If you are not observant or don’t ask your co-applicants (who were mostly clueless as well), you’d be at a loss on what to do.
Third, to have the government employees wear proper uniform, ID card, and a name tag. On the way to the mall, I asked our driver if LTO office personnel wore a uniform and ID, which he confirmed. Save for the man in the polo barong with ID card (who I didn’t see during my afternoon return), you would not know if you’re transacting with legitimate government employees.
Fourth, perhaps the accessing of one’s account at computer shop in a mall could be done away with. Imagine, you are entering your password in a public computer. If they could already print your receipt at their office, it would only take a few seconds more to print the form you need on the spot – even if you have to pay extra for it.
Fifth, to improve on their customer service. They were wordless, unsmiling, and with no eye contact at all. They were not disrespectful or rude, but it would make a difference. It was only when I came back in the afternoon that they made some small effort to have a slightly longer conversation. I understand that perhaps the office is still new (I am not sure know when it opened) and they might have tight funds for operating it yet I believe that good customer service must be present at all times and proper signage of procedure is a must if they want to lessen applicants coming up and disturbing them with their work.
Hopefully, this helps others who wish to avail of the services of the said office.