DOTr suspends LTFRB's Jardin for allegedly receiving P4.6M to grant a franchise
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) suspended Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board executive director Samuel Jardin for 90 days, for receiving P4.6 million to issue a franchise.
DOTR Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered Jardin suspended on Wednesday, April 3, over grave misconduct for soliciting money, "for facilitating and fixing the application" to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience.
DOTr also said that Jardin violated the rules on administrative cases in the civil service for receiving the money, as well as committing conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.
Apart from being the executive director, Jardin also serves as the chairman of the regulatory board's pre-accreditation committee that handles franchise applications.
The order was signed by Transportation Acting Undersecretary for Administration Artemio Tuazon on Wednesday, which was immediately served to Jardin. He received the order on Wednesday at 1:25 pm.
In a text message to Rappler on Thursday, April 4, Jardin denied the
Jardin was also required to submit a reply to the order, including documentary evidence, within 3 days of receipt. DOTr said it "will not entertain" any motion to extend the time to file Jardin's answer to the order.
The DOTr also asked Jardin to indicate whether or not he would want to hold a formal hearing.
'Fixing' a franchise
According to a sworn statement obtained by Rappler, Michelle Sapangila, the complainant, said a certain "Madam Lolit" allegedly asked for a payment of P300,000 for Jardin, and another P4.5 million which would be split between Jardin (P3 million) and Martin Delgra III (P1.5 million), for the issuance of a Route Measured Capacity. An RMC is among the documents needed when applying for franchises.
Sapangila haggled and brought down the total payment to P4.6 million, which would be given in two tranches. She said she requested to personally hand the first tranche to Jardin.
On March 27, Sapangila claimed she personally gave Jardin the P100,000 inside the LTFRB office. After giving it to the LTFRB executive director, the applicant reportedly went down to get the remaining P4.5 million. She gave this to Madam Lolit inside the office's restroom.
Madam Lolit, with the applicant, allegedly went to Jardin's office to hand him the bag containing the money.
Sapangila added that Madam Lolit messaged her the following day, saying that the money paid was not enough. Madam Lolit asked for the applicant's wedding ring.
Delgra denied the "malicious allegation" by the complainant who tagged him in the controversy.
"I absolutely deny the malicious allegations, even if double hearsay – 'yung sinabi ng isang tao sa isang tao patungkol sa isang tao (when someone says something to a person about another person) – against me. I suggest you confront the self-confessed briber, Michelle Sapangila, or her accomplice, a certain Lolit. I don't know both of them," Delgra told Rappler.
"Maraming butas (There are many loopholes)," he added, speaking about Sapangila's affidavit.
'No to corruption'
During a media briefing late March, the DOTr said that 115 employees in the department's road sector were terminated for corrupt practices, while 5 were suspended. Meanwhile, 21 were dismissed due to grave misconduct, while 3 were suspended.
In a statement Thursday, DOTr reiterated its warning against corrupt practices.
"The DOTr resounds its stern warning that disciplinary action shall come swift and unrelenting to any official or employee, no matter the rank, for the slightest hint of corruption," it said.
LTFRB, in a statement, said it will "fully cooperate" with the DOTr, and supported the department's call for a swift investigation.
"We leave it to DOTr to resolve the matter quickly, objectively and fairly. Kung may sala, kasuhan at tanggalin sa serbisyo. (If he is guilty, then we file charges and remove him from service.) Kung wala naman (If not), dismiss the case on the merits and restore his dignity," LTFRB said.
"Our unyielding campaign against corruption would come to naught if we are to relax our firm resolve to address corruption in the agency," it added. – Rappler.com