LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – An official of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Bicol has been placed under preventive suspension due to corruption charges, including allegedly accepting payola and soliciting P1.44 million from 4 bus companies over a two-year period.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon Jr said LTO Bicol chief for operations Mar Jose Magistrado has been placed under 90-day preventive suspension as formal charges have been filed against him.
In a letter to Magistrado dated October 9, Tuazon said that based on the documentary evidence gathered by his office, there is a prima facie case against Magistrado for various charges.
Among the charges is grave misconduct for “orchestrating cash solicitations” totaling P1.44 million from 4 bus companies from September 2014 to September 2016; for directly and indirectly benefiting from using dummies to win in public bidding and auctions of impounded LTO motor vehicles; and for “taking advantage of your position to enrich yourself.”
The bus companies were identified as Philtranco, DLTB, Superlines, and Isarog.
Tuazon said Magistrado is also charged with committing acts punishable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act “for knowingly and willfully receiving ‘payola’ in exchange for protection or non-apprehension of out of line route.”
He was also charged with conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service “for committing acts that clearly run counter to the policy of promoting a high standard of ethics in the public service and for tarnishing the image and integrity of your office.”
Magistrado was given 3 days to answer the charges.
Magistrado denied the allegations and said that as far as he knew, there was no formal complaint filed against him by the bus companies. He claimed the allegations were contained in a “poison letter.”
Magistrado accused certain personalities, including an alleged disgruntled bidder, as behind the “poison letters” against him.
“Therefore all intents and purposes are nothing more than ill conceived stories, lucdicrous and unactinable to say the least. The filing of this is tainted with malicious vendetta orchestrated at the behest of influential puppet masters who intend to force me out of the service,” Magistrado said in his response.
He said that he received Tuazon’s letter on October 14 and was suspended on October 15. Magistrado said he submitted his response on October 17. – Rappler.com
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