Transport sector demands expedition of ‘graft and corruption’ case against DOTr and LTFRB officials

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The Samahang Manibela Mananakay and Nagkaisang Terminal ng Transportasyon (Manibela) group staged a picket before the Ombudsman’s office in Quezon City on March 13 to pursue their complaint of graft and corruption filed on February 7 against officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Office of Transport Cooperatives (OTC). At the same time, the group also submitted a letter to the Ombudsman asking for information regarding the case.

They expressed grave disappointment over the slow progress of the cases they filed last year before the Supreme Court and now before the Ombudsman.

Manibela’s five-page complaint accused DOTr Secretary Jaime J. Bautista, Office of Transport Cooperatives (OTC) Chairman Ferdinand Ortega, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III and Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for denying due process to drivers and jeepneys when it implemented the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

Manibela also submitted a complaint regarding the setting up of checkpoints and surveillance by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) during the height of their assembly and celebration held in Lemery, Batangas on February 24 and 25.

“We were really low on diesel. Hungry, exhausted. The children were crying relentlessly. We are the only ones being blocked by the police,” shared Michael Cabral, president of MANIBELA Novaliches-Blumentritt, in an interview with Manila Today.

Manibela jeeps passed through nine successive checkpoints, which extended their journey from Batangas to Manila to almost 12 hours. Seven jeeps belonging to the Manibela group were unreasonably blocked at the checkpoints.

“We were stopped at the checkpoints. Our vehicles, our drivers, license, Official Receipts (OR) and Certificate of Registration (CR) were photographed and sent through messenger to various unknown people. It was very oppressive and pure harassment,” according to Mar Valbuena, president of Manibela.

Meanwhile, Manibela and Piston (Pagkakaisa Ng Mga Samahan Ng Tsuper At Operator Nationwide) meetings and activities in relation to their struggle against the pending implementation of the PUVMP are still ongoing.

On March 9, Piston consulted with operators. They took the suggestions and opinion of the operators who were forced to consolidate due to fear and anxiety over losing their livelihood.

“The LTFRB still flaunts the PUVMP’s success but it doesn’t admit that many operators were passively forced or deliberately coerced to consolidate. The LTFRB refuses to say that consolidation takes away individual franchises from operators to give to large cooperatives and large corporations,” PISTON said.

AB: Transport sector demands expedition of 'graft and corruption' case against DOTr and LTFRB officials