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3 LTO execs accuse Central Luzon chief of extortion

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — Three officials of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Central Luzon have accused their regional director of extorting amounts ranging from P10,000 to P40,000 from them monthly, even allegedly name-dropping presidential son Vice Gov. Mikey Arroyo.

But LTO-Central Luzon director Manuel Bondoc denied the allegations, telling The STAR that the three were merely getting back at him because he initially planned to relieve them from their positions.

Bondoc was referring to Abel Beltran, Sta. Maria, Bulacan extension office chief; Fernando Tingin, Bataan licensing center chief; and Rolando Castro, Baloc, Nueva Ecija district office chief.

In a complaint with LTO chief Roberto Lastimoso, the three officials claimed that Bondoc, former mayor of San Simon, Pampanga, had been forcing them "under pain of relief or transfer to give him cold cash on a monthly basis, ranging from P10,000 to P40,000 depending on the type or classification of the field office."

Bondoc said his plan to relieve the three was in compliance with Lastimoso’s directive to cleanse the ranks of the agency.

Bondoc also denied ever name-dropping Mikey Arroyo, the President’s eldest son.

"I am the regional director of the LTO. I have enough authority on my own," he said.

The vice governor was reportedly instrumental in Bondoc’s appointment to the LTO regional office.

Bondoc said his accusers dragged the name of the presidential son "merely to sensationalize their case."

The vice governor himself denied any involvement in the operations of the LTO regional office.

"If there was any wrongdoing on (Bondoc’s) part, then let him face the legal consequences. But there must be due process and he must be given a chance to defend himself," a local newspaper quoted Mikey as saying.

Lastimoso has created a task force to look into the allegations against Bondoc, and it is expected to submit its findings this week.

Among those summoned by the task force were Pampanga LTO chief Rosita Simbulan, Guagua head Gonzalo Galura, regional operations chief Rolly Casilan, Angeles City chief Aida Santiago, Zambales licensing center chief Norma Tacluyan, and Cabanatuan district chief Melencio Diaz.

Bondoc said he went on leave last week and would report to work only today to allow the panel to freely investigate the complaint against him.

"We have 57 LTO field office heads in Central Luzon and only three of them are complaining, and these three were among those who had been slated for relief from their posts," Bondoc said.

He showed a document signed by 24 LTO district office chiefs expressing support for his leadership. — Ding Cervantes

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