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MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista on Wednesday, October 11, categorically denied being involved in any form of corruption since leading the DOTr.
“When I took the helm of Department of Transportation, I vowed to serve the country and the Filipino people with integrity, which to me is more precious than any material wealth,” Bautista said in a video message on Wednesday.
“While these allegations may have distracted us from our work, I vehemently deny involvement in any corruption or inappropriate activities,” he added.
The transportation chief said he was “saddened by the baseless allegations.”
“Please allow me to categorically say that I never accepted any money or favor since assuming the post of transportation secretary,” Bautista said.
Bautista issued this statement after former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) official Jeff Tumbado alleged that bribe money from the LTFRB reaches the DOTr and even the Office of the President, with suspended LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III supposedly receiving some of the “cold cash.” (READ: From LTFRB to Malacañang: Insider says Teofilo Guadiz at center of bribes)
Bautista said he was eyeing formal complaint against those who have been “maligning” him.
“I intend to strongly defend the truth and my name, so I plan to file the appropriate formal complaint to whoever has been maligning me,” Bautista added.
He did not name names, but the latest to hurl accusations has been transport group Manibela and Tumbado.
In a press conference on Monday, October 9, Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena said that the “lagayan scheme” stretches from “DOTr, LTFRB, papunta daw po ito – ayon doon sa aking nabasa – papunta sa Office of the President, and may mga certain congressmen na involved po rito (from DOTr, LTFRB, it goes up – according to what I’ve read – all the way to the Office of the President, with certain congressmen involved too).”
Manibela has also publicly demanded Bautista’s resignation.
“Magkusa ka na magresign, Secretary Bautista. Command responsibility ang tawag diyan (You should resign voluntarily, Secretary Bautista. That’s called command responsibility!” one post read.
Manibela has threatened to stage another strike on October 16 in protest of the alleged corruption and the impending deadline for traditional jeepneys to consolidate. The transport group is the same one behind the jeepney transport strikes in March and July 2023. (READ: As deadline looms, jeepney drivers must consolidate or retrain for another job)
Manibela has also vouched its support for Tumbado, the former LTFRB official who made the allegations. Tumbado intends to file cases against those embroiled in the corruption scandal within this week.
Rappler earlier reported that Bautista has already issued a Notice to Explain against Guadiz, who is alleged to be at the center of corruption in the LTFRB. The DOTr has given Guadiz three days since Monday to comment on the bribery allegations. – Rappler.com
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported that Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista’s statement was issued on September 11. This has been corrected to October 11.)