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Monday, March 4, 2024

LTFRB ‘whistleblower’ recants; Bautista denies graft allegations

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The whistleblower who accused the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board of having a “bribing system” yesterday recanted his claim that corruption went up as high as the Department of Transportation and Malacañang.

Jeff Tumbado, who claimed to be a former head executive assistant of suspended LTFRB chief Teofilo Guadiz III, said his earlier claim was “irrational thinking” on his part.

Tumbado, who complained Tuesday he was being red-tagged for blowing the lid off the corrupt practices in the LTFRB, said he issued the notarized recantation affidavit “as a form of public apology” to Guadiz, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista, and the Office of the President.

Earlier in the day, Mar Valbuena, head of the transport group Manibela, linked Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista and two lawmakers to the LTFRB mess.

According to Valbuena, Tumbado claimed Guadiz delivered grease money to Bautista, while two members of the House of Representatives received P5 million each from transactions to open a new route or a franchise for public utility vehicles.

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Tumbado was also quoted by Valbuena as having disclosed that each LTFRB regional director must remit a monthly quota of P2 million, with a monthly collection of up to P30 million.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said it was premature for the Palace to comment on the graft allegations.

“Nothing has been proven yet. They are still investigating,” Bersamin said.

In his affidavit, Tumbado said his allegations were “all unintentional and misguided.”

“All of the things said were borne out of impulse, irrational thinking, misjudgment, poor decision making and was encouraged by some individuals to make the statement which may have added to my confusion and affected my better judgment,” Tumbado added.

Bautista, for his part, vehemently denied the allegations of corruption, adding that he plans to file a case against those “maligning” his name.

“I am saddened by the baseless allegations being thrown at me that I’m involved in corruption. Please allow me to categorically say that I never accepted any money or favor since assuming the post of Transportation Secretary,” Bautista said in a video-recorded message sent to reporters.

“I intend to strongly defend the truth and my name, so I plan to file the appropriate complaint to whoever has been maligning me,” he added.

Two transport leaders also turned the tables on Tumbado, saying he was the one who demanded money from them.

Benjur Menor, Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP) director and leader of a transport cooperative in Muntinlupa City, accused Tumbado of demanding P300,000 in exchange for the franchise approval of their 15 UV units.

Zaldy Ping, Stop and Go national president, also accused Tumbado of charging P50,000 for an appointment to meet Guadiz.

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