LTFRB suspends 3, dismisses 14 in Bicol for alleged corruption

MANILA—The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board - LTFRB has suspended the regional director and two employees of the Regional Franchising and Regulatory Office (RFRO) Region V for alleged corruption.

Placed under preventive suspension were RFRO Region V Director Vladimir Kahulugan, and employees Andres Tabunda and Arnel Sabello.

Kahulugan was charged with grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the public.

Tabunda and Sabello, meanwhile, were formally charged with falsification of documents and for deliberately tampering and falsifying the minutes of deliberation in relation to the appointments of some LTFRB Region V personnel.

The cases against the three were filed based on verified reports of cash solicitations, and for allowing a certain “Mark Sumulong” to misrepresent the LTFRB in collecting money from operators with pending cases, and for allowing his enforcement team to demand monthly “protection” money from Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) operators.

Meanwhile, Gerard del Rio, an officer of RFRO Region V, was formally dismissed from service on 31 July 2019 for grave misconduct for allegedly accepting cash with the promise of the speedy issuance of Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) to PUV operators based in Catanduanes and in Masbate.

Along with Del Rio, the LTFRB also ordered the dismissal of 13 other job order employees in relation to the cases filed.

LTFRB Chairman Atty. Martin B. Delgra III and the board members of the agency have assured the public that all necessary measures are being taken to uphold the agency’s mandate for a transparent, accountable, and corruption-free government service.

"We are undertaking all necessary measures to reassure the public of LTFRB’s commitment to good governance. ‘Yan ang nais ni Pangulong Duterte. ‘Yan din ang mahigpit na utos ni Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. Wala po tayong palalampasin," Chairman Delgra said.

LTFRB is urging the public to help the agency cleanse its ranks by reporting and exposing any malicious activity within the agency, no matter the rank.

"The fight against graft and corruption is an ongoing battle. We will not hesitate to rid anyone caught disobeying the law," Delgra added.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade stressed that corruption will not be tolerated in the DOTr.

"Walang puwang sa kagawaran natin at sa administrasyon ni Pangulong Duterte ang mga corrupt. Hindi alam ng mga gaya ninyo ang tunay na kahulugan ng serbisyo publiko," Secretary Tugade said.