Senate panel mulls filing of graft, plunder charges vs LTO executives

Published March 7, 2021, 3:38 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Richard Gordon on Sunday said the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will likely recommend the filing of graft or plunder charges against current and former transportation officials who were responsible for the delay in the issuance of vehicle license plates.

Senator Richard Gordon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gordon, who chairs the said panel investigating the slow implementation of the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, said the delay in the issuance of license plates have caused undue damage to vehicle owners and is considered a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“Whoever causes damage to third parties and other agencies—that’s anti-graft. Because you’re talking here of a huge amount of money that reached them, so that may qualify for plunder. That’s what we are thinking of recommending,” Gordon said in Filipino in an interview over Radio DZBB.

Last week, Gordon berated officials of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for allegedly defrauding the Filipino people P3.8-billion worth of fees for vehicle license plates “that never came.” The senator said the lack of vehicle license plates has contributed largely to the increasing number of felonies committed by motorcycle-riding criminals.

Gordon warned criminal and administrative charges await LTO officials, likening the modus to “swindling.” “You collect payment from people yet, you do not give them the plate,” he pointed out during the virtual hearing held last Tuesday, March 2.

The lawmaker pointed out the issue on the vehicle license plates began as early as 2013 or during the Aquino administration. At that time, a bidding ensued for the Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program amounting to P3.8-billion.

He said then Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya facilitated the bidding but without any appropriation. The winner of the bidding, PPI-JKG Philippines, was questioned for winning the bid considering they are already operating behind the LTO office.

This led to the filing of a case before the Supreme Court, which resulted to a delay in the issuance of license plates.

However, when the Duterte administration came in, another supplier—Trojan Computer Forms Manufacturing Corp.—won the bidding for the license plates.

Gordon noted Trojan did not agree when the PPI-JKG supposedly wanted to finish producing the license plates from 2013, eventually stalling the release of the license plates again.

Because of this delay, which now already spanned years, Gordon said it makes current and former transportation officials liable for the government’s botched motor vehicle license plate standardization program.

“Both of them are liable because they didn’t pursue it. They were delaying it because of that order management system, it’s like a source code. You can actually just give it,” the lawmaker pointed out.

“The fact they did not do anything to expedite the process, there is a liability under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, causing any undue injury to any party within the government or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits,” he said.