Skip to main content

“Fixer” in Philippine Government Agencies Like the Social Security System (SSS) and Land Transportation Office (LTO) – What We Filipinos Can Do About it?

Maybe in this post, I can clearly explain how “fixing” works in many government offices in the country. The idea is first, to warn you that such illegal fixing happens, and second, to give you tips on how you should avoid them. Plain and simple, we will not in anyway damage or speak against anyone or any particular office of the government in this post. It just happened that this is about my experience with LTO and SSS Tagaytay. I want to emphasize that still many government employees in the Philippines are doing their jobs right - including those who are working in the said branches.

If you have experienced transacting with any government offices here in the Philippines, whether you're a Filipino or not, you should already be familiar with these signages.

NO TO FIXER Banner in an LTO Office

NO NOON BREAK Banner in LTO Tagaytay

Here’s a bit of knowledge for you to digest first.

What is “fixing” or who is a “fixer” by the way?
In the Philippines, these good words happened to have a negative connotation over the past decades. Good words? Yes, indeed. When you say I am a fixer of broken pipes or I am fixing my customer’s problem, that is good. But in this country of corrupt people, a fixer is one who assists someone in an illegal, unfair, and gain-for-money way. Fixers are rampant in government agencies, though there are some in private entities too. In exchange for money (usually), a Filipino fixer would either speed up a process, hide correct figures or information in a document, or manipulate the normal transaction flow. Such kind of horrible act is done for some reasons, and on top them is this interest for money or gain – which when translated in legal terms is called “suhol” or “bribe” from the one who asks for the fixer’s service.

So, let me tell you now my story on that day I went to LTO and SSS Tagaytay offices.

The plan that day is for me to claim my license ID card from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Tagaytay City. Accompanied by my wife, we arrived there at around 7:30am. A few meters away from the main entrance gate of the LTO vicinity, someone asked me this, “Sir, mag-a-apply kayo ng lisensya?” (Sir, will you be applying for a license?). I politely responded, “Hindi po. Kukuha lang ako ng License ID card.” (No. I will just claim my license ID card). That guy, in his late 40’s and in a casual street outfit, then already stop asking me after that short response of mine.

LTO Tagaytay Branch Entrance Gate

LTO Tagaytay Signage

Driver's License Applicants at LTO Tagaytay

What is that line of questioning for? That is an attempted “fixing” and that person is no other than but a “fixer”. I can explain that later.

We then decided to enter the vicinity, approach the guard on-duty and tell him my intention. The guard told me to fall in the line. There were about 60 to 70 people queuing up already by that time. At around 8:15AM, I am already at the main receiving desk and got entertained for my subject transaction.

The staff told me that I can get my license ID card easily since this is just claiming and no further document processing is required. After about 40 minutes, my name is called and I got my first ever driver’s license ID card. I wrote my name and signature on a record sheet and I’m done, good to go.

Before we leave the LTO premise, I took some photos of how things are going on there. Have a look.

LTO Tagaytay Main Building

People Queuing Up at LTO Tagaytay Branch

LTO Guidelines

Big Screen Displaying Queue Numbers

From these photos, looks everything is normal. LTO staffs are busy while applicants for driver’s license are queuing up and waiting for their names to be called. There is a big screen that shows each window number and where the applicant’s queue number is displayed. As soon as the number shows, applicant has to proceed to that window and proceed with his/her transaction.

How fixing happens, as far as what I know?
Fixing happens in several levels.

On the lowest level, if you will remember that guy who approached me right before I enter the premise, fixer is already intervening. If I said, “Sir, I will apply for a new license (or renewal of license)”, he is more likely to respond this way: “Sir. Let me assist you. No need for you to take the examination. I’ll fixed it for you for 2000 pesos only.” Or it could be this way: “Sir. Ayusin ko na ang drug test at driving test nyo para mapabilis kayo.” (Sir. Let me fixed your drug test and driving test so this could go faster for you.) If you ask “Magkano?” (How much?), that is the start of everything about fixing.

If you have experienced this kind of conversation, you will surely have a similar version of my story. If you have not yet, there is a higher chance you will be asked with the same questions by a fixer in your next transactions with LTO. The fixer, on this instance, is not an LTO officer. He or she is just an outside connection. That is a clear form of “fixing” the normal and legal process flow of government transaction.

On the middle level, this is how it works. Some government employees are connected to the people outside whom are not LTO employees. Fixing can be done unnoticed inside the offices because this is just as simple as manipulating the queue process. Say your number is 103, calling your name can be delayed unnoticed. But you may say there is a big screen showing the queue numbers and they are in sequential order, so there is no way someone can be inserted. What many of us do not know is this reality. There are applicants who do not have a queue number with them. True! They will arrive sometime around 10AM or 11AM and they are just there to claim or do what is required of them to do. No number is required but a staff will just call them and let them in. Busy applicants will never have a chance to suspect this activity.

Irrelevant of queue numbers, fixing is done in many different ways. Ever heard of “palakasan” system or the “padrino” scheme? They fall on the mid-level of fixing. In other words, in a pre-arrange transaction, fixing happens just like that – unnoticed! Maybe this photo may tell you something about fixing.



Test Drive Area - Is anyone driving here?

On the highest level, this is what we hear and see on the news. High rank officials are tempted to fix transactions that has something to do with procurement, bidding, budget allocation, junkets and even employee bonuses. Maybe these headlines can best explain how that works.

LTFRB, LTO execs relieved en masse over corruption
http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/12/13/1653004/ltfrb-lto-execs-relieved-en-masse-over-corruption

LTFRB has much to explain
https://opinion.inquirer.net/110540/ltfrb-much-explain

92 gov’t officials, employees fired for graft

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/884051/92-govt-officials-employees-fired-for-graft


Done with LTO, let’s move to SSS.

At around 11:00AM, we reached the SSS office located near the rotonda or roundabout in Olivarez, Tagaytay. The weather is just fine that time. Sun is shining above giving off mild heat while a bit cold wind is gently blowing. (You may want to read my post about Tagaytay - 
Oh Tagaytay Oh Tagaytay – You’re Truly a Paradise). As soon as we entered the office, I inquired to the guard on-duty the process, then filled out a form, got a queue number, and seated on the available bench. I was number 187 and the number in-process at that time was 80 or something. This experience reminds me of something.

Tagaytay Rotonda

SSS Tagaytay Main Building

You as a Filipino citizen is fully aware of this. To finish your transaction earlier or within the day, you have to be in the SSS office by 5:00AM or earlier. How frustrating, but that's life here, and we have to face it.

To cut the story short, I was entertained at around 1:15PM. By the way, my transaction with SSS that day is to apply for an SSS ID card. After some electronic document signing, photo capturing, and receiving instructions as to how I will get my SSS ID, all is done at around 2:00PM.

Inside SSS Tagaytay

Visitors' Desk Labeled with Numbers at SSS Tagaytay

SSS Office in Tagaytay

Information Posted Inside SSS Office Tagaytay

Same banners I captured at LTO, “No to Fixer” signages are inside the SSS office too. Have a look.

NO TO FIXER Signage Inside SSS Tagaytay

People Waiting for their Numbers to be Called at SSS

Here’s an eye-opener.

These signages would not be posted inside SSS if the Filipino people or the government is not suspecting any fixing activity in this branch of the government. Corruption in SSS is happening and here are the proofs to that.

SSS chief on stock probe: No room for corruption

http://news.abs-cbn.com/business/10/31/17/sss-chief-on-stock-probe-no-room-for-corruption

21 SSS execs face P145-M graft complaint
https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/963465/21-sss-execs-face-p145-m-graft-complaint

2 SSS officials accused of bribery

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/943828/2-sss-officials-accused-of-bribery


If it’s about fixing, almost the same modus or scheme is done at SSS as in the LTO, except only that it is not that rampant in SSS. This is my observation. Some of SSS transactions by the way can now be done online. You can register an account at www.sss.gov.ph and you can then view your contributions, loans, and other information about your SSS account.

But still, headlines would tell that corruption, a high level of fixing, is going-on at the SSS territory up to these days. Needless to say this, but the same kind of fixing activities happen in other agencies of the government – PhilHealth, OWWA, NBI, DFA; name it.

Now, here’s the important part. 

FIXER - What can we do about it?
Maybe these photos are enough to guide us on what to do. But are these really enough?

Complaint Guidelines for SSS Customers

FIXER Signage
Procedure on How to Report a Fixer

With this culture of corruption and bribery, it is really difficult to combat fixers in the government. Fixers, because they are in this illegal job for many years, have the best mouths to convince you. On one hand, you need faster transactions and you’ll gamble for a thousand, two thousand, or even more to make it happen. On the other hand, what could be running in the mind of a fixer is this: “This is where I am getting the food for my family. I do not know any other job except for this. And besides, I have someone in position to protect me in case I would be caught”.

What a miserable situation we have here in the country!

I was a victim of fixing. When I was about to get my first student license years ago, I was convinced to pay 300 pesos in exchange of an hour-faster transaction. I am guilty of the act but I was young then, and it is my first time so I completely have no idea if it is really part of the LTO service. How many young people who needs student license or permit are like me (unaware) these days? How many more Filipinos would fall as victims on the hand of fixers in the Philippines?

FIXER - Can we really stop it?
Going with a fixer should not, in any way, become an option for all of us. If only we have good facilities, smart and honest government employees, and reliable systems in our government agencies, fixing is long time gone. But it is not the case today, even decades ago. Well, we are slowly adapting technological changes. But how soon faster and reliable online transaction can fully be implemented? Right now, it is still you who will decide of whether to fall as victim of fixers, get ahead of others in the queue, pay a thousand or two, and say to yourself “I fooled them”, or completely avoid them.



Sad to say, but if you cooperate with a fixer, it is you who have been fooled!

After finishing my transactions with LTO and SSS, we decided to eat at this restaurant in Tagaytay City. We also visited the newly opened Fora Mall. Before we ride the bus, we buy this Collete's buko pie. At around 4:30PM, we are already home. On the same day, just to mention, my wife and I were able to assist a young lady and an old woman in SSS and a foreigner looking for direction in the bus. It was a very productive day.

Andok's Restaurant at Olivarez, Tagaytay City

Andok's Meal

Fora Mall in Tagaytay City


CLARIFICATION: Mention of SSS Tagaytay or LTO Tagaytay is not in anyway singling-out these particular branches relevant to fixing or fixer activities. This post speaks for the entirety – the whole of SSS and LTO organization. If you find any misleading or offensive statement here, please notify the author and he will immediately take action.


Filipino Job Seekers: Here are the Practical Tips on How to Get a (Good) Job in the Philippines – Part 1



About the Author
I am Noriel Panganiban. I am the founder of www.knowriel.com and www.projectpilipinas.com (this site). I am an advocate of positive changes in the Philippines. Post like this is created and shared to inspire, educate and motivate people to do their part in bringing good changes. I have no any intention to damage or harm anyone. The ultimate purpose is to tell the truth, explain to my co-Filipinos and everyone what is that truth about in an easy-to-understand manner, and suggest solutions that could fix it.

I hope this post helps you realize what fixing or fixer is and why has it become a negative word in the Philippines. 
Like many of you, I want to retain back the true positive meaning of fixer - maybe with this post, it can happen. Can we still change its true positive meaning back? When? Please leave your comment below.

Most-Read Posts of the Month

“I Love Baguio City” - My Travel Story in the Summer Capital of the Philippines

The Strawberry Farm, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, the Mansion, Wright Park, Lourdes Grotto, and Session Road; these are among of the popular landmarks in the more commonly known “Summer Capital of the Philippines” – Baguio City. Why so? Well, the temperature here seldom exceeds 26 degree centigrade. During the cold season of December to February, the temperature falls down to even below 10 degree centigrade. The record low temperature was 6.3 degree and that was on January 18, 1961.

How to Travel to Baguio City?
Going to this cold city in the mountainous province of Benguet, Philippines is a six to seven hours travel by passenger utility bus from Manila. Starting from EDSA, traversing the NLEX, entering SCTEX, exiting the province of Tarlac and going through the neighbouring provinces of Pangasinan and La Union, and then exploring the zigzag road of either the Marcos Highway, the Kennon Road or the Naguilian Road, the coldest place in the Philippines will be reached. Baguio is about 2…

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Vulcanizing Shop, Sari-Sari Store, Bakery) – Part 1

I asked the shop owner about these old unused tires on what are they doing with it. The Vulcanizing shop owners says, “Oh, someone will pick up those tires and pay us 5 or 10 pesos each. Sometimes they just take it for free”.


Vulcanizing Shop - A Classic Example of Filipino Business
You’ve most probably seen and been into a local, typical vulcanizing shop like this one in the photo. The business concept is very simple. Here’s a customer with his flat or deflated tire and the vulcanizing boy will repair it using a rubber compound patch, a heating tool, and an air pump. If it’s a regular car or van tire, repairing one may only take 10 minutes the cost of which is around 30 to 60 pesos. If it’s a tire from a truck or bus, it could be around 30 minutes and the repair would cost the vehicle owner around 100 to 150 pesos.

Here’s the thing. A shop like this one could potentially earn a revenue of 1000 up to 2000 per day just by repairing a flat tire. Why? Well, with thousands of vehicles like j…

Who are These OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and Why are They the Modern Heroes of the Philippines

At the turn of the millennium, the Philippine government launches this campaign program calling the overseas Filipino workers or OFWs as “Mga Bagong Bayani ng Bayan” (Modern Heroes of the Nation). From then onwards, different organizations established programs giving awards and recognitions to selected OFWs who did a remarkable contribution or action to their family, friends, work or in general, to the country.


OFW ka ba?Bakit?Eh kasi dating mo pa lang, mayaman ka na. Boom! 
(Are you an OFW? Why? Because with just the way look, it seems that you’re rich. Boom!)

My Cousin Dado as an OFW in South Korea 

At present, OFWs around the world are estimated to be around 12 – 14 million. This is approximately 10 – 12 percent of the Philippines total population. These OFWs are distributed on many countries all over the globe majority of whom are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Italy. Immigrant workers in the United States, Australia and Eu…

What We Filipinos Believe In

Weeks before I arrive on writing this post, I came across this person popularly known as “The Son of Hamas”. Hamas is an Islamist Group in the Middle East. Many regards them as terrorists but on their own rights and beliefs, they exists to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation. Before he’s a leader of Hamas. He quitted and now he’s into writing and public speaking taking his personal stand against the extremism done by his former organization Hamas and his campaign for better peace in the region in light of political correctness. You can search about him online - Mosab Hassan Yousef. Hamas’ beliefs, in Mosab’s point of view, is wrong.
The connection I want to imply in this piece of writing is this:

A belief, once it has been engraved in the people’s mind, is difficult to change, that it sometimes takes force (and time) for someone in authority to change it.



In the Filipino people’s mind, for example, that belief that Catholicism is the religion that wou…

The Divisoria Malls - Defining Shopping in the Philippines

They call it the 168 Mall. It is one of the busiest places in the Philippines during shopping days like Christmas season when longing for enjoyment and relaxation is on the air once again. From Cavite, my home place, going to Divisoria, it will take you about an hour travel under normal traffic flow.

What is in this place? Well, Divisoria is the Bargain Shopping Capital of the Philippines. This is where wholesale and retail prices make shoppers say “WOW!” on delight. Visiting this place will definitely give you a realization about shopping on a different dimension. Find out why on the next paragraphs.

On the Photo: The Popular 168 Mall in Divisoria, Manila, Philippines


Divisoria is located in Binondo, Manila. It is accessible via Quiapo(where the famous Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church is) thru Recto Avenue and via Lawton near Manila City Hall. Divisoria has been there since the early 90’s. As it is near the North Harbour, Manila’s main seaport, the freshest and cheapest products usuall…

I know a man - Manny Pacquiao; He’s a Filipino

Way back 2006, I would not forget that day, Pacquiao knocked down Erik Morales twice and defeated the latter via TKO in the tenth round of that heated boxing match. I am with my friends in our rented apartment, which is near the company I used to work, watching the brawl in both excitement and suspense. That was yet another history made, taking his revenge to a Mexican boxer who once stole the glory from a Filipino champion. Like any other Filipino, I shouted, cheered, and celebrated that very moment of winning. The afternoon news is all about that big story of Manny Pacquiao - hailed as the People’s Champ. That was the year I started to get more fascinated about Pacquiao.



“All those who are around me are the bridge to my success, so they are all important.” – Manny Pacquiao


The Pambansang Kamao
Manny Pacquiao is dubbed as the “Pambansang Kamao” (National Fist). I am not going to tell his story as a boxer as that story has been there online for quite some time. What I want to share in th…

Filipinos! Here is My Free Education Advocacy that I Want You to Know

In the Philippines, we often hear this statement from the Filipinos about education:


“Hindi hadlang ang kahirapan para makatapos ng pag-aaral.” Poverty is not a hindrance to finish education.
I completely disagree! Allow me to explain my side.





Millions of Filipinos are unable to step highschool and even college because of the hardships in life we have in our country. Many are poor and therefore cannot afford the cost of education in the Philippines. If paying 5,000 to 20,000 pesos per semester in a Philippine college is already tough, then how about more the daily baon, school projects, transportation allowance, boarding house, and extra expenses?


Wake up! This is the truth. That Filipino statement with all respect, if I were you, forget it. Accept the fact that you cannot just earn your education in the Philippines because you are poor.

This is not an insult to anyone. I am from a poor family but I was able to complete a college degree despite of that. If you really want to find a solution…

Decoding the Meaning Behind the Creative Photos of a Filipino Local Traveler

Meet Jerob, a Filipino traveler who truly enjoys the place he used to visit here in the Philippines – with creativity in mind. Jerob was a former workmate of mine and I got really fascinated with the photos he’s sharing on his social media page. There is something different in there, something even beyond creativity. I did not interview Jerob about his photos except that I only asked his permission that I will create a blog post related to some of them. Great! He allowed me. So in this post, let me try to decode the meaning behind each one of Jerob’s impressive photos.

In this photo, obviously, he’s into “planking” and interestingly, he did it on top of the “I love ABRA” signage. Well, planking became famous here in the Philippines just a few years back. It is actually an exercise and at the same time a self-test for mental toughness. That idea if you can endure to hold your position for a long time and to also do it in a public place is a form of creative communication. Yes, it is gr…

“Pasalubong” – What Makes this Filipino Word Very Special?

Probably next to the beauty of a tourism spot, if it’s about the real reasons for traveling there, is our search for the best “pasalubong”. It’s the tagalog word for “gift” or “souvenir” and it can be anything from foods, toys, clothes, handicraft, furniture, soaps, wearables, or household items. It’s practically anything, big or small, cheap or expensive, edible or not. And for as long as that special item was bought somewhere else and then given to someone as an act of love and kindness – the true purpose has been served.


A simple gesture of “Salamat po” (Thank you) for sharing that pasalubong is enough to make you feel the love and kindness back. There is the best pasalubong for kids, for grandmas and grandpas, for a favorite grandson, for a close neighbor or friend, for the workmates, for the boss, for a former enemy, for a religious brother, and even for a complete stranger. Yes, indeed!

Well, “pasalubong” is actually different from a gift for birthday, wedding, or special gatherin…