LTO fixer, cohort in 'sure pass' scheme falls in hands of ARTA, cops

Published October 18, 2021, 4:59 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

A fixer and her cohort who victimize applicants for driver’s license were nabbed in an entrapment operation staged over the weekend by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

(Photo Ye Jinghan/ Unsplash)

The operation took place on Friday, Oct. 15 at the Land Transportation Office (LTO)-Las Piñas City branch.

The fixer was identified as the owner of an insurance company. Her cohort, on the other hand is a driver’s license support staff of the LTO, who also mans the agency’s public assistance and complaints desk (PACD). Their identities were withheld.

Prior to the entrapment, elements of ARTA conducted tedious surveillance work, where it was found that the fixers were facilitating a “sure pass” scheme in the LTO examination for conversion of non-professional driver’s license to a professional driver’s license.

Under this scheme, examinees would pay the fixer P4,500 for the illegal service. She would then give her cohort an undetermined amount of money to facilitate the service.

Normally, the exam only costs around P425.

Before taking the exam, a certain “Aling Loleng” tells examinees not to submit their answers and instead say that their computer froze. After this, they will be informed that they passed the exam.

Two undercover ARTA agents engaged the fixers on Thursday, Oct. 14. However, they were not able to take the exam because the office implemented a cut-off scheme of only 120 examinees per day.

The two fixers were arrested on Friday and were brought by the CIDG to the Southern Police District (SPD) Headquarters for booking prior to the filing of charges for violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

ARTA also served a show-cause order against Joselito Luarca, LTO Las Piñas Chief Transportation Regulation Officer, to explain the violations discovered by the ARTA-Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation Office (CMEO) within seven working days from the receipt of the order.

ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica, who joined the inspection virtually, highlighted how ARTA and CIDG used the “snake-grab approach” to collar the fixers and serve the order.

The ARTA chief reminded government officials to be stringent with their rules and ensure that their processes, requirements, and ranks are free from red tape and fixers.

“Siguraduhin po natin na walang nakikipag-kuntsabahan sa loob ng opisina. Sayang naman ang ginagawang efforts ng LTO na pabilisin ang serbisyo kung may ganito (Let’s ensure that there’s no collusion happening within the office. Otherwise, the LTO’s efforts in expediting its service is for naught),” he said.

Belgica also reiterated his call to the public to avoid engaging with fixers and to not hesitate to reach out to ARTA for help regarding their pending applications and other experiences with red tape.

“Huwag po tayong maging parte ng problema, maging parte po tayo ng solusyon. Mabilis na po ang mga proseso ng LTO pag dating sa licenses, renewals, at iba pa (Let’s not be part of the problem, rather let’s be part of the solution. The processes at LTO when it comes to licenses, renewals, etc. are now fast-moving),” he stressed.