Two fixers offering “sure pass” emission testing and vehicle registration renewal to motorists at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) were arrested by joint elements of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and the Philippine National Poice (PNP) over the weekend.
In a statement, the ARTA said the female suspects were arrested in an entrapment operation launched by ARTA and the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) on Oct. 22. The duo wasn’t identified.
The two fixers, one working as a cashier and the other a data encoder, were from the same emission testing center in Parañaque City.
ARTA said “tedious surveillance work” by undercover agents revealed that the fixers used a social media application to offer their illegal services to motorists.
The social media posts of the said emission testing center stated that they are only offering emission testing. But when interested applicants contact the mobile numbers posted, they will also be offered non-appearance LTO vehicle registration renewal services.
An undercover ARTA agent, who posed as an applicant for motorcycle registration renewal, was instructed to bring his motorcycle to the testing center on Oct. 20 and pay P1,830 for the said illegal services.
After the vehicle underwent emission testing, the agent was told to return on Friday to claim the complete LTO registration renewal documents from the suspect. When asked by the agent if the motorcycle needs to be brought to LTO Parañaque, one of the fixers said that there was no need for it.
Roberto Mejorada Jr., Administrative Aide IV of LTO Parañaque, condemned the illegal service being offered by the fixers, implying that it could endanger lives as these tests determine whether or not vehicles are roadworthy.
The emission testing center employees were arrested after handing over the complete registration renewal documents of the agent on Friday afternoon.
The fixers were transferred to CIDG custody at the Southern Police District (SPD) headquarters. They will be facing charges for violation of the Ease of Doing Business Act.
The PNP-CIDG confiscated around 205 processed motor vehicle registration renewals, 15 stronghold insurance policies, and 46 Official Receipts of motor vehicle registration renewals, which were verified to be authentic by an LTO employee. These will be used as evidence against the suspects.
Meanwhile, ARTA Director-General Jeremiah Belgica ordered an investigation on the emission testing center for any more signs of red tape.
He also warned private institutions, such as testing centers, to not abuse the responsibility that they have been granted because it could easily be taken back.
A show-cause order was also served to the head of LTO Parañaque to explain within seven working days the initial findings of the ARTA-Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation Office (CMEO) on the office.