City to probe fixer of LTFRB franchise

The City Council’s legal matters committee will launch a probe into the allegation involving a Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) regional office employee, who was the subject of a complaint about charging applicants to process their franchise applications.

In his privilege speech on Monday, Councilor Rolando Amurao mentioned that a report about a certain Erol Bala reached his office. He said the visiting officer to the City had allegedly collected P70,000 to P100,000 from franchise applicants.

“We must investigate this scam in our transport sector,” said Amurao, who chairs the City Council’s transportation committee.

Amurao noted that LTFRB Martin Delgra III already clarified in a forum two weeks ago that the franchise is issued free of charge to qualified public utility vehicle operators.

Councilor Nesario Awat, who chairs the legal matters committee, recalled that there was an attempt by the City Council to investigate the same complaint of an anomaly in the past but it did not prosper due to lack of witnesses, whose affidavits are also needed in the filing of appropriate cases.

“No one cooperated with us especially in the execution of the affidavit. Even if we will refer it to the committee, without the cooperation of witnesses, then it’s a futile exercise,” he said.

“Probably this time there will be somebody who will cooperate so that we can take action pertaining to this issue,” Awat added.

Councilors Henry Gadiano and Victor Oliveros, however, were skeptical that the City Council’s investigation effort and the request for the LTFRB regional office to conduct its own probe would help solve what they considered a deep-seated, long-entrenched problem in the said agency.

“The investigation is in order but as to how it will be done that’s the problem. I don’t know if it will be effective because they (LTFRB regional officials) are aware of the said issue ever since,” Gadiano said.

Oliveros doubted that the LTFRB regional officials will come over all the way from their Lipa City office to attend a City Council question hour in Puerto Princesa City. He added that they tried inviting them in the past but received no response.

Amurao said he will coordinate with Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr. to get the list of names of complainants who can give testimonies that will aid their case building against Bala.

Awat, on one hand, told Palawan News on Wednesday that they would invite Bala to a committee hearing sometime next week.

The City Council has agreed to Councilor Roy Ventura’s motion that they will file a resolution requesting the LTFRB regional office to launch its own investigation after the said committee hearing and copy furnish the Department of Transportation secretary’s office as well as the Office of the President.

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