LTO, DOTr execs tagged as campaign fundraisers
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Richard Gordon threatened to file plunder charges against transportation officials as he accused the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) of being turned into campaign fundraising centers.
Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said in a Senate radio program on Saturday that he had acceded to the request of Sen. Grace Poe to investigate private motor vehicle inspection centers (PMVICs) after his committee found grave irregularities in LTO operations.
Gordon said the committee found ground to file plunder charges after its investigation of two irregular contracts in the supply of license plates and uncovered an alleged conspiracy to set up a monopoly in the sale of motorcycles.
“It’s definitely plunder, with such huge amounts,” Gordon said. “P477 million in advance payments—that’s 10 times [the threshold amount for] plunder.”
He was referring to the advance payments former LTO officials approved in 2013 for its five-year motor vehicle license plate standardization program.
The P3.85-billion program to “modernize” license plates for about 15 million vehicles was awarded by LTO to the Dutch-Filipino consortium of Knieriem BV Goes and Power Plates Development Concept Inc.
Amid the shortage of car license plates and driver’s licenses, taxpayer Reynaldo Jacomille sued then Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya over several irregularities in the contract but the Supreme Court declared the controversy “moot and academic” in 2018.
But Gordon said the high court did recognize several irregularities that emerged and never precluded the filing of criminal charges.
Gordon said he could not believe how unscrupulous DOTr and LTO officials mustered the guts to pull off their money-making stunts and that courage could only come from the backing and enablement of high-ranking officials.
He said he had sufficient reason to believe that the LTO irregularities were meant to raise campaign funds not only for the 2016 elections but the the 2022 elections as well.
“I think they are being commanded to raise campaign funds. That is clearly showing now,” he said, without explaining the “sufficient reasons.”
He did suggest that official enablement was also the reason why the Vehicle Inspection Centers Owners Association of the Philippines, which is under Senate investigation, said in an open letter that the ongoing investigations were being “used as platform to gain political mileage.”
“If I am being alluded to in that statement, that would be unfair, and that will be shown by the investigation, which will expose even those close to the President,” he said.
Gordon said the blue ribbon committee would press its investigation of the PMVICs, which he said were found by the Senate committee on public services, chaired by Poe, to be “riddled with anomalies.”
Poe earlier claimed that some PMVICs were owned by relatives of DOTr and LTO officials and that the PMVICs could earn up to P6 billion to P8 billion a year.