Case hints at rift in LTFRB leadership
In a move that hinted at a widening rift between top officials of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), board member Aileen Lizada filed administrative charges in the Office of the Ombudsman last week against the chief of staff and two employees of LTFRB chair Martin Delgra III.
The complaint, which named Delgra’s chief of staff Manolo Labor, Rose Gener and Angelo Afante, stemmed from alleged irregularities in the processing of an LTFRB order that approved a P2.50 fare hike petition for jeepney operators in Region 6.
Labor, Gener and Afante were charged on Friday with, among others, insubordination, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, which could lead to their suspension or dismissal.
In a brief statement to reporters, Lizada explained that she was against the fare hike as the National Economic and Development Authority and Department of Trade and Industry had said that it was too much.
Her affidavit — a 31-page searing castigation of Delgra’s staffers—detailed how the three, by bypassing her authority, allegedly conspired to rush the approval of the LTFRB order without her knowledge.
Lizada said she had suggested revisions to the order in addition to her dissenting opinion.
She added that when she learned that the order had already been docketed without her signature and without any of her comments being addressed, she confronted Labor and demanded that he return it to her office.
But Labor refused, Lizada said, as she added that the matter was “not simply an issue of insubordination but more seriously, it impinged on my duties and functions.”
According to her, she also found out that Gener and Afante took a copy of the order from her office and routed it to the Office of the Executive Director and the docket section even though it was still under review.
“Pulling out orders already in our custody, and without the permission of a board member, is clearly out of order and shows blatant disrespect [for] the office. We need to put these people in their proper place,” Lizada said.
In a memorandum submitted to Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade and which Lizada appended to her affidavit, Delgra said the incident “plainly [reflected her] deteriorating professional and working relationship with the board and in the central office which [was already affecting the working atmosphere of the agency.”
However, he rebutted Lizada’s claims that Gener retrieved the order from her office without her consent, saying it was Lizada’s staff which released it to Gener.
“How can anyone insinuate, much less categorically allege, that [Gener] got a copy of the order without the knowledge of any of her staff?” Delgra wrote. “It is simply contrary to human experience.”
He added that an incensed Lizada had called up Labor and swore at him. “Certainly her actuations are unbecoming of a government official. An apology is in order, but not necessarily sought unless genuinely expressed,” he wrote.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.