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Thursday, April 18, 2024

As DOTr sorts bribery mess, Leynes to head LTFRB

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Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista appointed a temporary head of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) as the agency addresses allegations of corruption and other irregularities.

Bautista said Mercy Paras Leynes will serve as officer-in-charge chairperson of the LTFRB until Oct. 9, 2024.

Leynes, a lawyer by profession and board member of the LTFRB prior to her designation, will replace LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III.

Guadiz was suspended by President Marcos on Monday amid allegations of a “lagay” or bribing system in the agency’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

“We already launched an investigation on the allegations against the LTFRB. While we are already evaluating the alleged irregularities, we also issued a notice to explain against Guadiz for him to shed light on the allegations,” Bautista said.

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New LTFRB officer-in-charge Mercy Paras Leynes

Bautista maintained the DOTr does not condone corruption within the agency and its line agencies and that it will continue to clamp down on erring officials.

“We do not tolerate any form of corruption in the DOTr and will not hesitate to impose the stiffest sanction if the evidence so warrants,” he said.

Meanwhile, a former LTFRB personnel who accused Guadiz of alleged corrupt practices claimed he was being red-tagged.

Jeff Tumbado, a former LTFRB head executive assistant, belied accusations that he was left-leaning.

“That is clear red-tagging and harassment to frighten me. I am worried about my security as well as my family’s,” he said.

“Nevertheless, I will continue with my pursuit of truth on the widespread corruption at the agency with the involvement of some personalities at the Legal at Technical Division,” he added.

For her part, Senator Grace Poe called on the DOTr to suspend the implementation of the PUV modernization program until all issues hounding it are resolved.

“We want to modernize our PUVs, but it should be one that is progressive, just and humane,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services.

“And now, it has been marred with corruption,” she added.

If the allegations were true, Poe said it would be a grave injustice to drivers who lost their jobs to those who curried favors through bribes.

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