Thursday, July 1, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Militant party-list group Anakpawis said Neri should “explain to ordinary workers, stakeholders of SSS, why Stradcom was awarded the contract.”
“Hard-earned money of ordinary workers should not be held hostage to the prerogative of SSS management,” said Cherry Clemente, Anakpawis secretary general.
Clemente said the SSS management should have first consulted the workers and other stakeholders before entering into a deal with any company.
“The money in SSS should be cared for with utmost diligence and high ethical considerations (because) Neri's credibility as SSS chief is still questionable,” Clemente said.
The militant group said it is “closely studying” the issue if it will necessitate a congressional inquiry.
Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza earlier called for the scrapping of the project after losing bidders cried foul over the decision of the SSS management to award the project to Stradcom.
Losing bidders have decried the awarding of the SSS unified multipurpose identification (UMID) card project to a consortium led by Stradcom Corp., an information technology company that was involved in the controversial P4-billion LTO Information Technology project a few years ago.
Stradcom has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying it complied with all the bid requirements of SSS and was cleared in the LTO controversy.
Plaza, however, expressed surprise over reports that Stradcom cornered the SSS contract despite alleged controversies surrounding previous projects that the company undertook with other government agencies.
“Bakit pinasali ng SSS (sa bidding), e may pending imbestigasyon dito sa Congress,” Plaza told Remate Tonight. He said he would file a separate resolution to investigate and stop the Stradcom-SSS deal.
He said contracts like the ones entered into by the LTO and SSS are “one-sided” and are examples of “corruption that is hidden from the public.”
Losing bidders in the SSS project have questioned why Stradcom cornered the contract despite its failure to submit all bid documents.
The joint venture of Stradcom, All Card and Teco submitted the lowest bid of P1.689 billion in the SSS project. Another bidder, the consortium of Banner, Sinophil, Arjowiggin and C & C offered P2.189 billion for the project, while AC Corp. and Oberthur Technologies submitted a bid of P2.257 billion.
In a manifesto issued by losing bidders, “the joint venture of All Card, Stradcom and Teco should have been disqualified and not allowed to have their third envelope opened.” They said the Stradcom group had no compliance statements for ISO and ANSI certification.
The group said that despite the lacking documents, the SSS bids and awards committee still considered the Stradcom bid.
Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza said Stradcom used LTO personnel to collect fees for the company’s information technology project.
“Ginawa pa nilang atchoy ang LTO, ginawa nilang kolektor,” said Plaza, adding that the collection of fees by LTO for the IT project was not stated in the contract.
“Nang manalo ang Stradcom sa bidding, dadalawang item lang ang nasa (kontrata), yung licensing at vehicle registration,” the lawmaker said.
He added: “Doon sa amendments sa contract, nagtataka ako. Hindi naman dumaan ng bidding kung bakit nadagdagan ng walo (na items). Sa madaling salita, sampung charges na ang pwede nilang ipataw para sa IT, IT fees.”
Because of the ammendments to the contract, the fees charged the public went up, Plaza said. He said even emission testing of vehicles are chaged with IT fees even it is not included in the contract.
He said the government did not benefit from the deal even as the government spend for the office and even the personnel used in the project. Plaza said even the office of Stradcom is located inside the LTO compound.
“Kaninong tao? LTO, kuryente, lahat po ang gumagastos ay LTO, ‘yong building nila nasa loob ng LTO, sagot yan ng LTO lahat. 'Di ba malinaw na panloloko na ito sa taumbayan?” Plaza said.
He said when LTO submits its annual budget, it includes the funds used for Stradcom.
Plaza said influential people might be behind Stradcom for it to corner juicy government contracts.
“So far walang direct link (ang palasyo), pero nagtataka naman ako na walang ginagawa ang executive para matigil ang kalokohan ng Stradcom,” the lawmaker said.
Ayon sa report ng COA, lumagda sa isang kasunduan ang Stradcom at LTO upang maging "exclusive contractor" ng LTO ang kompanya para sa pagbibigay ng lisensya sa student drivers.
Nabatid sa rekord ng LTO na batay sa kasunduan, ang student license permit ay nagkakahalaga ng P150.
Batay sa COA report, kumita ang Stradcom ng halos P6 bilyon subalit ang "tax withheld" mula sa gross revenue ng kompanya ay umabot lamang sa P275 milyon.
Nagtataka ang COA kung saan napunta ang ibang nakolektang pera.
Magugunitang kamakailan ay hiniling sa Kongreso na imbestigahan ang kasunduan ng LTO sa Stradcom na nakakuha din ng isang build-operate transfer contract mula sa LTO para sa P4 Bilyon computerization project.
Nangako ang Stradcom na ikokonekta nito ang may 250 tanggapan ng LTO at aayusin ang serbisyo, pero sa kabila nito hindi pa rin kumpleto ang proyekto hanggang sa kasalukuyan.
Ayon sa COA, wala man lamang inilaang parusa o multa sa Stradcom ang kontrata para sa pagkabalam ng pagpapatupad ng proyekto.
Sinabi ng isang mambabatas kamakailan na naging "alila" ng Stradcom ang LTO kasi mga tauhan pa ng LTO ang nagsilbing kolektor ng kompanya para sa "information technology project" nito.
“Ginawa pa nilang atchoy ang LTO, ginawa nilang kolektor,” ayon sa kongresista. Nang manalo ang Stradcom sa bidding, dadalawang item lang ang nasa (kontrata), yung licensing at vehicle registration,” anang kongresista.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
The Land Transportation Office (LTO) entered to a memorandum agreement Wednesday with the Coalition of Clean Air Advocates (CCAA) and Private Emission Testing Center (PETC) IT providers to fight smoke belching in support of the government’s implementation of Clean Air Act.
The agreement was signed by CCAA President Jojo Buerano, Michael Barrido-RDMS, Atty. Ben Mora of LTO-PETC Monitoring Team, Benny Techico-Eurolink, and Mark Halili- ETC IT.
The signing of MOA was personally witnessed by LTO Chief Alberto Suansing.
Suansing believed that the move will help the LTO to monitor emission test results conducted by various emission test centers.
“This is an effort by the LTO to clean the air through monitoring of emission test results, being conducted by various emission test centers… ito ay campaign natin para sa pag-didisiplina sa industriya,” Suansing said.
He said that the move will strengthen partnership between LTO, non-government organizations (NGOs) and PETC IT providers to fight non-appearance in any emission testing needed for the registration of vehicle and to avoid conflict of interest in emission testing. (LTO)
MANILA, Philippines - The Land Transportation Office (LTO) has modified an order it issued last Monday stopping the pilot implementation of the private emission testing center (PETC) direct connectivity project.
LTO chief Alberto Suansing said he decided to modify the cease and desist order he issued earlier, which would allow their provider Stradcom Corp. to continue the test implementation of the project but limited only to the 88 PETCs it has already covered.
He said allowing Stradcom to push through with the direct connection facility would enable LTO to check the viability and effectivity of the scheme to eradicate anomalous smoke emission tests, especially “non-appearance” cases that have been the bane of the whole smoke emission test process.
The direct connect project was proposed by Stradcom supposedly as a measure to weed out “non-appearaance cases” in view of the failure of PETCs and their information technology (IT) providers to stop these anomalous smoke emission tests.
The project, however, was blamed by PETCs for the alleged surge in non-appearance cases in the past several weeks since Stradcom launched the direct connect facility, which mainly allows the PETC to connect directly to the LTO systems database when it uploads real-time through the Internet photographs of each smoke emission test of a vehicle due for renewal of its registration.
The Clean Air Act has mandated the compulsory smoke emission testing of all vehicles whose owners are seeking the renewal of their registration with the LTO.
Lawyer Dan Barrameda, vice president for legal and corporate affairs of RDMS, one of the LTO’s four accredited PETC-IT providers, said they will file a complaint before the Department of Transportation and Communications against Suansing’s modification of his order totally stopping the direct connect facility pilot implementation because “it seems arbitrary.”
Stradcom, for its part, warned that PETC-IT providers were in danger of losing their LTO accreditation due to conflicts of interest because some PETC-IT providers allegedly own a PETC.
Some Land Transportation Office-accredited private emission testing centers (PETCs) yesterday lashed back at Stradcom Corp., accusing the LTO’s information technology provider of trying to monopolize IT procedures in the government agency.
Officials from the LTO-accredited PETCs, at the same time, turned the tables against Stradcom Corp., claiming the private company has no legal basis in pursuing direct connectivity with PETCs and accused it of muscling up the PETCs to enter into such set-up, allegedly to monopolize the system.
The PETC officials also denied allegations of conflict of interest by Stradcom Corp. against some PETCs whose management and ownership are the same with their IT provider, as they claimed that there are no formal complaints against the PETCs as to date.
Lawyer Dan Barrameda, of RDMS testing center, explained that Stradcom Corp.’s direct connect facility is one clear case of conflict of interest, saying the LTO-IT provider collects fees from LTO and also from the PETCs which transmit data for processing.
Barrameda said Stradcom as the IT provider of LTO receives the data from the PETC and validates the same, and under its direct connect facility, it is the IT provider of the PETC that transmits the data to the LTO-IT system.
It is a clear case of conflict of interest because it transmits and receives unto itself, Barrameda said.
Jay Bautista, of Eurolink PETC, seconded Barrameda’s statements even as he claimed the direct connectivity of Stradcom Corp. to individual PETCs is still under operational testing but it is already collecting payment from the PETC which is clearly anomalous.
On the other hand, Mark Halili, of ETC-IT, branded Stradcom’s earlier claim of breach of contract and non-payment of P38 million by PETCs as pure harassment.
He also clarified the alleged violation of PETC-IT providers to Department Order 2005-37 of the Department of Transportation and Communications has no basis and is not enough reason to stop the operation of the IT Providers.
He said this move is a pure harassment of the IT providers because the Stradcom wants to monopolize the business.
Lawyer Dan Barrameda, vice president for legal and corporate affairs of RDMS, one of the four PETC-IT providers serving the more than 600 PETCs conducting mandatory smoke emission testing, said the project has no legal basis and even violated an order of the Department of Transportation and Communications. “It has no legal basis. If it has no legal basis, then it’s illegal,” Barrameda told The Star.
conduct smoke emission tests on vehicles. With the pilot implementation of the Direct Connect project, Barrameda said that LTO effectively added Stradcom to the four accredited firms. Barrameda said that DOTC Order 37 issued in 2005 identified only four firms — RDMS, Cyberlink, Eurolink, and ETC IT, as the IT firms accredited to provide connectivity and other services to PETCs authorized to
“DOTC Order 2005-37 did not mention any Direct Connect project. It also did not mention Stradcom (as an accredited PETC-IT provider),” Barrameda said.
Alberto Suansing, LTO chief, for his part, brushed off the charge of any anomaly in the pilot implementation of the said project. “How can that be illegal when Stradcom is our IT provider? We have a contract with them for 10 years. They are supposed to manage our data. The question here is: What is the job of PETC-IT providers?,” Suansing told The Star in a phone interview.
Suansing said that it was the PETC-IT providers who are facing serious trouble with charges of conflict of interest over the cross ownership of some PETCs with the owners and operators of the four IT firms.
In a press statement issued yesterday, PIRA claimed the agreement between the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Stradcom would result in additional fees for vehicles registration, along with the CTPL.
PIRA chairman Michael Rellosa said this move of Stradcom, the private service provider of the LTO, was made public through news reports published over the weekend. He said the “midnight deal” would earn Stradcom an additional P600 million a year.
He also urged the incoming Aquino government to look into the matter.
“This is clearly a midnight deal as it is happening merely days before the change in government,” Rellosa said. “The new government should look into this because this will be an additional burden on the part of motor vehicle owners who are already suffering from the long list of computer fees that Stradcom is charging them,” he added.
In the same statement, the PIRA head noted that there is no need for the system being pushed by Stradcom as there is already an existing system that authenticates CTPL policies.
The Certificate of Cover Authentication Facility (COCAF) was developed by the insurance industry hand-in-hand with the Department of Finance (DOF) to make sure all CTPL policies are authentic and issued only once. The system was introduced three years ago and now includes a means of collecting taxes and remitting it to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
“This system is already in place and does not cost car owners anything,” he said. “And the best part now is, this system will now be connected to the gateway of the Insurance Commission which will monitor it in real time.”
The gateway allows the commission to ensure that all CTPLs are authentic, what insurance company issued the policy, and that the appropriate fees to government especially those due the BIR, are collected and paid to the appropriate agencies.
In a separate statement, Stradcom vice president Ramon Reyes also endorsed the importance of the IC gateway to ensure that all CTPL certificates of cover issued to car owners by insurance companies are authentic. “The IC gateway is the motorists’ assurance that the CTPL COC came from a duly licensed insurance company,” he added.
He claims that the IC gateway is connected to the Expanded Certificate of Cover Verification Facility (ECOCVF), the system developed by Stradcom, which is being contested by PIRA’s COCAF.
COCAF is interconnected with the LTO and insurance companies pay Stradcom P40 per CTPL policy as interconnection fee. The P40 fee is being absorbed by insurance companies.
Last week, Stradcom advised insurance companies that the amount will be raised to P53.57 for motorcycles and P71.43 for other vehicles due to costs incurred in upgrading the LTO system.
Rhoda Ipac, Stradcom’s vice president for business connectivity, even praised the present system being used by the industry as “providing the necessary tools to eradicating duplicate and fake CTPL policies.”
“Obviously, Stradcom is in a hurry to raise the fees and could not wait for a reply from insurance companies,” Rellosa said.
Stradcom has been in control of LTO’s computers since 1998 when it bagged a 10-year build-own-and-operate contract to computerize the agency’s records. Since then, it has been charging computer fees on all transactions - from driver’s licensing to motor vehicle registration.
When you get there, however, you get stunned when you are told that your car’s original registration data are nowhere to be found in their computer’s memory. How could this happen, you tell them, when there is no question as to the authenticity of your expiring registration certificate and its accompanying official receipt? They look as stumped as you are, but before you can fly into a rage, they ask for one week to “fix” the problem (between the LTO main office and the branch office).
I personally experienced the exact same thing, to my utmost irritation, only a few weeks ago. It took the LTO 10 days before it could validly renew my registration. Now I am at least secure in the knowledge that my vehicle is not only legally registered, all the pertinent data about it can also be accessed by any LTO branch in the country at the touch of a button.
Thinking back on the snafu’s implications, I realized, to my horror, that if anybody had carjacked my vehicle before its registration was renewed, I would be left with nothing but two worthless pieces of paper (registration and OR) as evidence of my car’s existence before it was stolen. The Highway Patrol Group (HPG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) would, as a matter of routine, then go to the LTO to check on the authenticity of the original registration, only to find nothing recorded in its computers.
I had almost forgotten about this incident when a source high up in the PNP gave me the lowdown, just the other night, on the sordid mess the LTO’s records-keeping system has deteriorated into. This is, to say the least, appalling. One would expect that with the adoption of automation, the LTO would be running a far more orderly records system. As it turns out, its motor-vehicle records have only gotten more unreliable than ever since that agency entrusted the computerization contract in 1998 to a company called Stradcom.
Stradcom is headed and controlled by a controversial businessman named Cesar T. Quiambao. Remember this name.
No wonder carjacking (or “carnapping,” as coined by the local media) has remained unabated, if it has not actually gotten worse. And no wonder there are thousands of smuggled high-end big bikes (Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Kawasaki, BMW, Yamaha) and luxury cars (Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW) that get legitimized at will or at the drop of a hat. Getting such contraband vehicles registered with the LTO is so easy, according to my source, if you can pay the Stradcom encoders and the LTO people the amounts they demand on the sly.
Stradcom Corp. is the same company that had tried, but was foiled (by the Supreme Court), to prolong its 12-year sway in the LTO by offering to undertake a Radio Frequency Identification Project for the agency. The man behind Stradcom, I repeat, is Cesar T. Quiambao.
(Actually, Quiambao is known as the former president and founder of the Strategic Alliance Development Corp. [Stradec], the holding company of Stradcom, which now runs the LTO’s computers. Stradec’s ownership structure was once described by a morning daily as “murky.” In fact, Quiambao figured in a legal dispute with his partners over control of the company. That dispute ended with Quiambao’s ouster as chairman [by the Sumbilla-Yujuico-controlled board]. But Quiambao, in the end, emerged as the one in control, and the president of Stradcom, although he actually owns only less than 20 percent of that company.)
Quiambao, through Stradcom, managed to retain its stranglehold on LTO’s computerization program for the past 12 years “by hook or by crook, but mostly by hook,” my source said. “But it is mostly by hook, or by getting into the good graces of decision-makers at the highest levels of power, including whoever the incumbent LTO chief might be.”
He remained so “untouchable” in the LTO that he managed to extend what would have been a 10-year computerization contract (that should have expired in 2008); now a rewritten version of the contract specifies that it “officially” expired only in February 2010. Yet it continues to run the LTO’s computers to this day, probably in an interim but legally disputable capacity. Only the incumbent LTO chief, retired PNP director general Arturo Lomibao, can say for sure, of course.
(Businessman Filemon Cuevas, a stalwart of the Iglesia ni Cristo, recounted to a fellow businessman very recently that Quiambao was once a partner in the multibillion-peso Skyways project in which he was involved. Quiambao allegedly issued to him a P300-million check that bounced and remains unhonored to this day. Cuevas said that when he checked what pieces of property were listed under Quiambao’s name, he could find nothing nearly worth P300 million.)
The PNP official, who has decided to come clean about the goings-on at the LTO, recounted how, three years ago, HPG operatives discovered that many vehicle owners were blissfully unaware that duplicate plates have been produced by the hundreds to enable the LTO to “accommodate” the registration of stolen and smuggled vehicles.
“A vehicle’s registration works like a birth certificate; there can only be one possible owner,” the PNP official said. The Stradcom’s “polluted” computer system, however, has been the means to facilitate double registrations, he said. He said this was determined by the HPG in a series of random checks that should have continued—but were suddenly ordered to stop.
He explained that car-engine numbers are usually in four digits of, say, 1234, which the LTO usually determines through stenciling. Once entered into the Stradcom computer, any identical number would be automatically rejected by the computer, and the LTO would refuse to register such a vehicle. Stradcom encoders—for a fat fee, of course—solved this by merely adding the letter “A” to any engine number and voila (!), the vehicle, even if it was stolen or smuggled, is ready for registration. The Stradcom computer merely tweaked the alpha-numeric coding system a bit with an “A” or a “B” and the total corruption of the registration system became the name of the game at the LTO.
Stradcom encoders, it should be pointed out, play a key role in this corrupted operation. They are the keepers of the passwords that would permit access to the registration software.
Our source recounted that in one apprehension, the owner of a snazzy, two-door Mercedes Benz could not satisfactorily explain the origin of his vehicle. In tracing the origin of the engine number, it was discovered that the original registration was for a cement mixer!
There are some 8 million motor vehicles of all types in the country today. How many of these “legally registered” vehicles were stolen or smuggled? Only the Stradcom encoders would be able to tell you, it seems. But the question that would surely scare any legitimate vehicle owner is this: Does your vehicle have a “twin” registrant somewhere? The answer, of course, is you’ll never know because we don’t know to what extent Stradcom’s computer system has been polluted after all these years.
In a telephone interview, PIRA President Micheal F. Rellosa said insurance companies were informed last week by the Stradcom Corp., which manages the LTO’s car registry system, that due to the upgrade of this system, the fee for the use of the system would be raised.
“They said they upgraded the system and bought new servers so they are raising the connectivity fee. Insurance companies currently shoulder the P40 connectivity fee. The increase... we would have to pass this on to the consumers,” Mr. Rellosa said.
He said the connectivity fee would be raised to P60 for insurance policies for motorcycles, and to P80 for other vehicles.
He said premiums for the CTPL policies could rise by P20 for motorcycles and P40 for other vehicles.
He said PIRA has asked Stradcom to meet to discuss the reason for the adjustment later this month or before the hike is implemented.
Insurers link to the LTO system to check the authenticity of insurance policies issued and to ensure these are not assigned to multiple motor vehicles.
The CTPL is a requirement for the registration of all motor vehicles with the LTO. In case the motor vehicle causes the injury or death of another person, the insurer would provide the payment for the aggrieved party.
Late last month, the Insurance Commission put in place a software called the IC Gateway that links to the insurers’ database as well as the LTO’s database to serve as a double security against fake vehicle policies.
All CTPL certificates of cover issued by insurance companies are now required to go through the IC Gateway under the Insurance Commission’s Circular Letter No. 19-2010 dated May 20, 2010.
Upon issuing a CTPL, the insurance company must send the data to the Insurance Commission through the IC Gateway. The insurer will then check the validity of the CTPL certificate of cover.
The link between the insurers and the IC also allows the LTO to check whether the motor vehicle corresponding to the CTPL exists.
The IC Gateway is programmed to send an authentication code to insurance companies after the CTPL has been checked.
We point this out in the hope that the incoming P-Noy administration was sincere when it promised to minimize, if not totally stamp out, corruption in the entire bureaucracy. The LTO and the NTC are among the many offices that sorely need to undergo a comprehensive performance review. In plain language, these agencies have become so dirty as to require a lot of hard scrubbing.
The NTC first gained notoriety as the key agency that was to implement the Arroyo administration’s aborted multi-billion-peso ZTE-NBN broadband deal, which called for the supply of atrociously overpriced hardware equipment for the new technology from China . Foiled but undeterred by the cancellation of the grossly disadvantageous ZTE-NBN deal, the NTC’s corrupt commissioners tried another tack to cash in on the broadband technology.
This time, it seized broadband frequencies from their original franchisees or assignees by administratively ordering the reversion of all unused frequencies (worth several billions of pesos) to the state. The purpose of the administrative order was to give the NTC commissioners a free hand in brokering the sale of those frequencies to the cash-rich telecoms firms during the waning days of the Arroyo administration.
The whole scheme, however, like the ZTE-NBN deal before it, was soon exposed. Now embroiled in a slew of lawsuits filed by the aggrieved original assignees, the NTC commissioners—one of them said to be a “bagman” of a prominent “gentleman” close to the administration—now fear the day when they would inevitably be named respondents for certain violations of the antigraft law.
The LTO, for its part, stands out as a class by itself, but is by no means any cleaner than the NTC. Here is an agency that has abdicated much of its key functions to a private company called Stradcom. The extent to which this private company—headed by Cesar Quiambao, said to be fronting for Indonesian business interests—has held sway in the LTO has shocked and dismayed companies involved in motor-vehicle insurance and those that have set up Private Emission Testing Centers, or PETCs.
Stradcom now directly collects from the motoring public fees for computer services and premiums for the mandatory third-party liability (TPL) insurance coverage of motor vehicles. How and why this was allowed to come about is openly talked about by grumbling LTO employees and officials who themselves don’t fully understand what the hell is going on at the LTO.
The Stradcom first came into the scene nearly 12 years ago under a build-operate-own contract to computerize the record-keeping of the LTO’s registration and licensing functions. What remains unclear to this day is exactly when its 10-year contract took effect, and when it was supposed to formally expire. What is so unclear as to be mysterious is by what legal basis it continues to operate in the LTO when its 10-year contract “should have expired by October of 2009, at the very latest, by the wildest stretch on the imagination.”
The above quotation, by the way, was culled from a remark made to me only the other day by an LTO insider who, like many other LTO employees and middle-level officials, are disgusted at how the LTO seems to have “given away practically everything to Stradcom.” The same insider even wryly remarked that “at the rate we are going, we might as well call this agency the STO [or Stradcom Transportation Office] instead of LTO.”
The only thing that is clear is that Stradcom still lords it over as the LTO’s “official gatekeeper” to all the data concerning the registration of motor vehicles and the licenses of all Filipino drivers. It must have been this crucial “gatekeeper” role that enabled this company to secure its hammerlock embrace on the agency.
What’s really sad is that under a computerized setup, one would expect the incidence of vehicle thefts and illegal vehicle registration to be minimized. LTO insiders, however, swear that the unholy partnership with Stradcom has only made matters worse. Car thefts or carjacking cases and illegal registrations have become more rampant than ever before. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to hear about multiple registrations and duplicate plates.
The “unholy” partnership between the DOTC-LTO and Stradcom has only made it a lot easier to, say, register a Porsche smuggled into the country through Port Irene. That is, if you pay a certain fixed price to any Stradcom operator who has the password or access to the computers. A host of other shenanigans that have anything to do with LTO records have become easily “doable,” provided you talk to the right Stradcom people.
No wonder people have started calling the motor-vehicle agency the “Stradcom Transportation Office.”
Whoever would be named Transportation and Communications secretary must keep a special watch on these two agencies—the NTC and LTO --- which, by far, are probably the worst of the agencies under that department. But what’s this I hear that at the NTC, an incumbent commissioner is angling to stay on the job by virtue of his college credentials as an Ateneo graduate? Probably just idle talk.
At any rate, my next focus would be on the LTO after I have gathered all the delicious dope and the documents that would inevitably show what a huge mess the Stradcom has converted the LTO into under its lucrative and seemingly open-ended contract with the DOTC and LTO.
Transportation department sources said the multimillion-peso contract is being rushed because of Lontoc’s order to LTO chief Alberto Suansing and newly installed LTFRB Chairman Jimmy Pesigan.
Lontoc allegedly wants to finalize the deal by June 24, despite the absence of public bidding for the multimillion-peso contract.
The source said both the LTO and the LTFRB are using perennial transport problems, such as the operation of colorum vehicles, “out of line” for-hire vehicles and kotong activities by some law enforcers to justify the interconnectivity contract.
The two agencies claimed that such malpractices will be curbed if the interconnectivity tie-up were implemented.
Aside from the multimillion-peso interconnectivity contract, Lontoc is also reportedly rushing the printing of a Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) coffee-table book costing P700,000, which a ranking DOTC official said “is a memento of Lontoc’s vanity.”
Lontoc is also reportedly angry with officials of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) for deferring the implementation of the 250-percent toll increase at the South Luzon Expressway (Slex) that the board authorized in a recent decision.
The increase in toll rates at the Slex stirred a hornet’s nest among motorists and transportation operators.
Bus operators who use the expressway are assailing the rate increase and are poised to seek a temporary restraining order to the TRB before the Regional Trial Court in Makati .
A few weeks ago, Lontoc was reminded by Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) officials on the so-called midnight bus franchises after some LTFRB official were implicated in the said anomaly, which involved the “resurrection” of long-dormant franchise petition already archived.
The “dead” franchise petitions are reportedly being revived and peddled allegedly for big sums of money.
“Reviving archived franchise petitions and processing them for issuance of franchises are violative of the Public Service Law and the Antigraft and Corrupt Practices Act,” the Pboap letter to Lontoc said."