Gordon berates LTO for license plates ‘that never came’
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday berated current and former officials of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for allegedly defrauding the Filipino people of P3.8 billion worth of vehicle license plates.
He said this had also contributed largely to the increasing number of felonies committed by motorcycle-riding criminals.
Gordon, chair of the Senate committee on good government and public accountability, warned of criminal and administrative charges against LTO officials for repeatedly collecting fees for “license plates that never came.”
“Is it not a fact that you [in the LTO] have engaged in swindling? You collect payment from the people yet you do not give them the plate,” Gordon told transportation officials who attended the online hearing led by Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, the LTO chief.
Ruth Castelo, trade undersecretary for consumer protection, agreed with Gordon, saying such an offense was considered “estafa,” or fraud.
Gordon’s blue ribbon committee resumed hearings on the failure of government agencies to implement Republic Act No. 11235, or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act.
The senator said LTO officials were liable for the damage they had caused on Filipinos for the crimes due to delays in the issuance of the new vehicle plates.
“How many people were killed, robbed and who may never attain justice because of motorcycles that do not have plates? How many stolen motorcycles that could no longer be recovered down because they do not have license plates?” he said.
‘Shame on you!’
Tuesday’s hearing centered on the allegedly irregular practice by the LTO of exacting payments for the 2013 project to produce vehicle plates that were not delivered.
Gordon said his committee would file charges against officials responsible for the botched P3.8 billion contract entered into by the government for the supply of 15 million license plates, even after the Supreme Court declared in a decision that the irregularity was “cured” by the subsequent allocation of funds.
Citing the high court’s findings, Gordon castigated former Transportation Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla for pushing for the bidding of the license plate project, and awarded the contract to the joint venture between Power Plates Development Concepts Inc. and J. Knieriem BV-Goes, a Dutch company.
“How did you have the guts to push through with the bidding without the money? Is it because you were bound to get a share from the proceeds?” he said.
“Lotilla, shame on you!” Gordon said.
In response, Lotilla said he would submit a written reply to the senator’s allegations.
Same for motorbikes
According to Gordon, the LTO is repeating the same scheme of collecting payments from motorcycle owners with the ongoing project to replace license plates in compliance with the provisions of RA 11235.
He said the issuance of new motorcycle plates had been delayed due to disputes hounding the P978.8 million contracts for the manufacture of the plates, and the LTO’s supposed bias for a “favored” contractor.
Gordon called out LTO Executive Director Romeo Vera Cruz for allowing the winning bidder, Filipino-German company Trojan Computer Forms Manufacturing Corp., to monopolize the manufacture of license plates by using its proprietary “digital-signature” machine.
“You fell prey to Trojan, very much like how the Greeks also were defeated with the Trojan horse,” Gordon said.
He said the LTO officials were also liable for graft for delegating an official function of registering vehicles to the Manufacturers, Assemblers, Importers, Rebuilders, Dealers and Other Entities (Mairdoes), an association of motorcycle dealers.
“You allowed the big businesses to devour your functions, which make you liable,” Gordon said.
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