By Beatriz Marie D. Cruz, Reporter
The LTFRB has requested that Philippine legislators allow them to seek assistance from private companies for the government’s transportation modernization efforts, as they will not receive a budget from Congress in the coming year.
“The proposed [amendment] states that Congress has the authority to establish a legislative structure for the PUV modernization program, which includes allocating funds for the ongoing implementation of the PUVMP (Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program),” stated Mercy Jane Paras-Leynes, acting officer-in-charge of LTFRB, to the House transportation committee.
“The process of creating laws may take a while, so our alternative could be partnering with private or educational institutions, as well as non-government organizations, to further study the routes. This would result in a more comprehensive and cohesive rationalization of the routes,” she suggested.
In September, Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista announced that the PUV modernization program will persist, even though it did not receive any funding for the upcoming year.
The committee also found Jeffrey G. Tumbado, a former executive assistant to suspended LTFRB chairman Teofilo E. Guadiz III, in contempt.
During his testimony, Mr. Tumbado stated that he does not have any proof connecting Mr. Guadiz III to any corrupt activities in the LTFRB. He clarified that this was solely his personal viewpoint and mentioned that he had heard about the alleged incidents from transport operators within the agency.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. suspended Mr. Guadiz III on Oct. 9 for alleged corruption in the agency. This came hours after Mr. Tumbado said in a press conference that Mr. Guadiz and other transportation officials received money in exchange for franchises, routes, special permits and other documents from the agency.
After two days, Mr. Tumbado retracted his statement and released a sworn affidavit as a public apology to Mr. Guadiz. Yet, when questioned during the committee meeting on Monday about the accuracy of the statements in the affidavit, Mr. Tumbado replied in Filipino: “Not everything written there is true… as I mentioned, I was confused at the time.”
During the hearing, Mr. Guadiz stated that the LTFRB does not have the sole authority to approve PUV franchises.
“No single person has the power to approve franchises. We need the LGUs (local government units), the DoTr (Department of Transportation), and we need also other government agencies, it’s not LTFRB alone,” he told congressmen.