Maria Isabel Lopez appeals to LTO to grant her 'senior citizen discount'

MANILA, Philippines – Actress and former beauty queen Maria Isabel Lopez appealed to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to give her a "senior citizen's discount" for breaching the ASEAN special lane.

On Thursday, November 16, Lopez appeared before LTO law enforcement director Francis Ray Almora after the office issued a summons for her violation.

She said it was "never her intention" to breach the security protocols of the Summit and did it out of desperation. (READ: What happens if you breach the ASEAN lane?)

"I mentioned that the intention is simply not to breach the security because I was talking to an MMDA official. If the intention was to breach security, I wouldn't have to talk to him and just go ahead and do what you want," Lopez told reporters after meeting with Almora.

Lopez said she will accept the consequences of her behavior but asked the LTO for lighter sanctions. She said she has no prior traffic violations.

"Sabi ko naman kay director Almora, wala pa naman akong driving or traffic violation sa driver's license ko. Sana man kung ano yung penalty na ipapataw sa 'kin, bigyan naman ako ng senior citizen discount – 20%," said Lopez.

(I told director Almora that I do not have any driving or traffic violation under my driver's license. I hope that whatever penalty is imposed on me, they give me a senior citizen discount – 20%.)

The final decision on her violation will be known 5 days after she files a formal written appeal to LTO. Almora said they had given her within the day to submit her appeal.

"Ms Lopez appeared this morning with her lawyers but did not submit a position paper. Hence, she was given until this day to submit. She did mention that having been on the road for two hours, she needed to go to a toilet," Almora told Rappler.

Lopez faces possible suspension or cancellation of her driver's license after the Metro Manila Development Authority filed a complaint against her. She will also pay fines for violating the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, November 11, Lopez bragged that she removed the divider cones separating the ASEAN lanes from the lanes open to the public. She later apologized for her behavior, saying she is "just human."

Other motorists followed her as she sped through the special lanes. Almora said his office is yet to receive complaints against those who followed Lopez.

"If LTO will receive the complaint for others who followed, LTO will act per case," he said.

The special lanes were delineated ahead of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.

Many commuters and motorists expressed frustration over the heavy traffic along EDSA caused by the lanes and the lockdown of certain areas around the metro.– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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