‘Bala’ probe vs cabbie ends in voided franchise
A taxi driver implicated in the alleged “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) extortion scheme at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) denied the allegation when he faced authorities on Wednesday, but a scrutiny of his cab’s papers led to the cancellation of its franchise.
In the course of hearing the complaint against Ricky Milagrosa, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) discovered that a signature on the franchise documents of his taxi was forged.
The LTFRB had summoned Milagrosa and the operator of the taxi (UVK-190) to explain why the franchise should not be canceled for the driver’s alleged involvement in the tanim-bala racket, as reported in social media.
Earlier this week, a Facebook post by Julius Neil Habana said his friend, a seafarer, hailed a taxi from Sampaloc, Manila, to the airport around 9 p.m. of Oct. 29, and saw the driver place something in one of his bags.
The seafarer immediately reported this in a text message to Habana, who then advised his friend to proceed to his boarding house, where they later checked the bags and allegedly found a .38-cal. bullet.
Complying with the LTFRB summons, Milagrosa confirmed having the Naia-bound passenger that day but denied planting the bullet. He said he was surprised when the passenger suddenly asked to be taken to Remedios Street in Malate, supposedly to fetch a friend also going to Naia.
Upon reaching an apartment on Remedios, two to three men approached his taxi, the driver said. Milagrosa said he opened the trunk and waited for the passenger’s friend. But the passenger suddenly got off the cab, took his bags and brought them inside the apartment, irking Milagrosa.
“Niloloko n’yo ko eh. Ipapa-pulis ko kayo eh (You’re making a fool of me. I’ll report you to the police),” he recalled telling them before leaving.
The LTFRB sent a message to Habana through his Facebook account and called his company, but he had yet to respond.
LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez said Milagrosa was not yet off the hook because the board received a similar complaint from William Abellanosa, chief administrative officer of a manpower agency, who reported what happened to an employee, Vincent Anthony, on the same date, Oct. 29.
Abellanosa said Anthony, who hailed the same taxi to go from Makati to the airport, was also “victimized” by a tanim-bala scheme and that the bullet was allegedly “planted” in the passenger’s bag en route to Naia. Anthony took the ride to Naia around 3 p.m., or about six hours before the incident described by Habana.
When told of Abellanosa’s complaint, Milagrosa said he could not even remember if he was already on duty at that time.
The LTFRB issued an order summoning Abellanosa and Habana for the next hearing on Nov. 10.
The board also directed its legal division to cancel the taxi’s franchise—which is under the name of Gilbert Mendoza—and deny the operator’s application for an extension, which was also filed on Oct. 29.
Mendoza, who appeared at the hearing, denied signing the application document even though his signature appeared on it. He said he had already sold the franchise to Romeo Marcial.
Ginez said Marcial had apparently sold the same franchise to Vivencio Torcuator, but the application papers for an extension of the franchise validity made it appear that it was still in Mendoza’s name.
Torcuator, who was also present, blamed the anomaly on his liaison officer who processed the documents.
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