MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Land Transportation Office (LTO) will begin 2016 with a new head to lead the agency hounded by controversy over the past year.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) executive director Roberto Cabrera will take over the LTO following the resignation of Alfonso Tan Jr, transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya confirmed.
“[He] voluntarily resigned in November, I think, because of family reasons,” Abaya told Rappler in a text message.
Abaya said he had requested Tan to “hold on until a new appointment is made by the President.”
He added that the appointment papers are expected to be received on Monday, January 4.
Tan has been head of the LTO since 2013, replacing the late Virgie Torres who retired from government service after figuring in a viral video showing her playing in a casino.
Cabrera, meanwhile, was a practicing lawyer before his appointment as LTFRB executive director in 2013.
He was a managing and founding partner of the law firm of Reyes Cabrera Rojas & Associates, and was previously an associate at the Law Firm of Tanjuatco, Sta. Maria, Tanjuatco. He also served with the Diamond Group of Companies, a pharmaceutical company.
Cabrera graduated with a law degree from the Ateneo Law School, and passed the Philippine Bar in 1997. He also holds a Masters of Law degree from Boston University, with concentration on International Banking and Financial Law.
He and LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez entered the board in 2013, the same year the LTFRB launched programs that aimed to modernize transportation and improve public safety.
These included the activation of “Oplan Isnabero,” which aimed to protect commuters against abusive taxi drivers; programs that targeted colorum or unregistered public utility vehicles; and the launch of hotline numbers for passengers’ complaints, among others.
Problems at the LTO
With his new post, Cabrera faces the task of steering an agency hounded by criticism over undelivered license plates and the backlog in driver’s licenses.
Last year, the LTO mandated the replacement of old vehicle license plates with new ones as part of its plate standardization program, which it said was an effort to curb plate switching and removal.
But the program came under fire after many vehicle owners complained of waiting months to get their new car plates. Some lawmakers also questioned the deal with the license plate suppliers Power Plates Development Concepts Incorporated and Dutch firm J. Knieriem BV-Goes (PPI-JKG).
In July last year, the Commission on Audit stopped additional disbursement for the program.
Speaking on radio dzMM, Cabrera promised to act swiftly to resolve the backlog in the release of car plates and driver’s licenses. Cabrera said he will meet with the LTO’s legal division for a briefing on the issue, so that he could start planning how to resolve the pending tasks of the agency.
“I would like to have all the details…I want to see the legal moves that the agency has done, to see what else we could do,” he said.
The LTO is also facing problems with the delivery of driver’s license cards, after a Manila court stopped the agency’s license card deal with Allcard Plastics Philippines Inc. – Rappler.com