From LTFRB to Malacañang: Insider says Teofilo Guadiz at center of bribes

Lance Spencer Yu

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From LTFRB to Malacañang: Insider says Teofilo Guadiz at center of bribes

BACK. In this file photo, LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz attends the Senate hearing on the planned June 30 phase-out of traditional jeepneys on March 2, 2023.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

(2nd UPDATE) Ex-LTFRB official Jeff Tumbado first aired these allegations of corruption on Monday, October 9. He has since taken back what he’s said, admitting in a sworn affidavit that they were 'borne out of impulse, irrational thinking, misjudgement, poor decision making.'

Another corruption scandal is threatening to rock the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Under the so-called “lagayan scheme,” LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III was alleged to have regularly accepted bribes of up to P5 million in exchange for the speedy approval of special permits, franchises, and modifications of routes. 

A DOTr document obtained by Rappler also ordered Guadiz to explain “irregular activities” that he allegedly did as head of the agency. These contained screenshots suggesting that the chairman supposedly accepted several millions in bribes and “grease money.”

In one screenshot, Guadiz was told that a “client” offered P810,000 to apply for Grab franchises for 27 units. In response, he allegedly said, “Ayos!!! Dinner tayo this week. Usap tayo negosyo (Nice! Let’s have dinner this week. Let’s talk business).”

Just hours after these accusations were made public, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. suspended Guadiz for “alleged corruption under his leadership.”

All this stemmed from statements made by Jeff Tumbado, the former head executive assistant of Guadiz, in a press conference arranged by Manibela. That’s the same transportation group behind the jeepney transport strikes in March and July 2023.

Tumbado made the grave accusation in a press conference arranged by Manibela, the same transportation group behind the jeepney transport strikes in March and July 2023.

Manibela’s head, Mar Valbuena, said Tumbado was ready to expose a scheme that 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).”

And although Tumbado was hesitant to give exact details before he formally files a complaint against officials, he did paint the general picture – and it’s bad.

Nakakaharap ako ng mga transport cooperative na umiiyak sa harapan ko kasi gusto nilang kumuha ng [provisional authority], pero hindi makapagkuha hangga’t wala kang lagay. Meron pa kasamang miyembro, mga PWD [Persons With Disability] pa,” Tumbado said.

(I have to face transport cooperatives that are crying in front of me because they want to get a [provisional authority], but they can’t get one until they offer a bribe. They even had members who are persons with disability.)

The whistleblower said he has pieces of “first-hand” evidence – which include text screenshots and audio recordings – of how dirty money allegedly moves from LTFRB to the DOTr and even Malacañang. 

Tumbado previously served as LTFRB’s head of communications from October 2022 to February 2023, during which he was promoted to head executive assistant. He resigned on September 15 after he allegedly had seen enough.

However, an LTFRB official told Rappler that Tumbado was only officially affiliated with the agency from January to February 15, 2023, during which he served as communications head.  

What are the allegations?

Tumbado first aired these allegations of corruption during the press conference on Monday, October 9. He has, however, since taken back what he’s said, admitting in a sworn affidavit that they were “borne out of impulse, irrational thinking, misjudgement, poor decision making.” (READ:Ex-LTFRB exec recants corruption allegations, apologizes to Bautista, Guadiz, OP)

What follows are the accusations made by Tumbado prior to his recantation.

According to the former LTFRB official, operators and transport cooperatives would give bribes in “cold cash” to be granted priority in fixing documents. These included permits, franchises, and other requirements needed for public utility vehicles (PUVs) to operate along a certain route.

For instance, new operators could be allowed to join particularly lucrative routes – even though the route already had existing operators – “if the price is right.”

Bribes could reach as much as P5 million, with half given upfront and the other half paid once the documents are fixed.

Halos araw-araw, may mga ganyan na ako ang nilalapitan, ako ang binubulungan. But then linilinaw ko: walang nanghihingi, kundi may naglalagay. Kung walang naglalagay, wala namang ganyan,” Tumbado said during the press conference on Monday, October 9.

(Almost every day, there are instances where it’s me they come to, me that they whisper things to. But then I want to clear things out: no one is asking for bribes, it’s them who give bribes. If no one gave bribes, this wouldn’t be happening.)

He also said that the LTFRB chairman is a “victim” because he was only following “instructions from higher-ups.” He even alleged that LTFRB regional directors were assigned a “quota” of raising P2 million.

Tumbado declined to provide other specific names and details about those involved. He also said he “could not confirm or deny” whether any of the bribe money wound up in his hands.

In protest of the allegations of corruption and the impending deadline for traditional jeepneys to consolidate, Manibela said it will be holding another transport strike on October 16. (READ: As deadline looms, jeepney drivers must consolidate or retrain for another job)

‘Usap tayo negosyo’

Rappler also obtained a “Notice to Explain” document from the DOTr that ordered Guadiz to comment on alleged “irregular activities,” and show cause why he should not be charged with grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The DOTr document noted that a representative of seven UV transport groups in Region 3 offered P10 million for 105 of their units to be upgraded in accordance with the modernization program. In response to this, Guadiz allegedly said, “Kayang-kaya. Papuntahin mo sila bukas (Easily. Let them come tomorrow).”

Rappler also obtained screenshots of alleged Viber messages to the LTFRB chairman in which a “client” offered P30,000 per unit to apply for Grab franchises with a certain “RD Cj” in Pampanga. That would amount to P810,000 in total.

Guadiz allegedly enthusiastically responded with: “Ayos!!! Dinner tayo this week. Usap tayo negosyo (Nice! Let’s have dinner this week. Let’s talk business).”

In another screenshot, the sender informed Guadiz that P140,000 was allegedly placed inside a drawer. Other messages informed Guadiz of “packages” from “Rainbow” and “SV3.”

Rappler could not immediately verify if the screenshots were of conversations between Guadiz and whistleblower Jeff Tumbado, although in one screenshot, Guadiz allegedly replied with “Hi Jeff.”

The DOTr has given Guadiz three days from Monday to explain. If he fails to do so, the DOTr will complete its investigation without hearing his side.

A little before 6 pm on Monday, Guadiz said in a statement that the LTFRB was ready to help in the fight against corruption.

As of this morning, nasa opisina naman ako, at wala pa po akong nalalaman na anumang opisyal na inihain laban po sa atin, pero kung mayroon man, haharapin naman po natin ito dahil malinis po ang ating kalooban,” he said.

(As of this morning, I was at the office, and I haven’t gotten any official complaint against us, but if there is any, we’re ready to face it because we’re clean.)

Less than an hour later, Marcos suspended him for alleged corruption. –

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.