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To calm the speaker’s wrath

Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez is clearly intent on pressuring Assistant Secretary / LTO Chief Edgar Galvante to resign his post due to unaddressed or unmet public expectations particularly the issuance of Vehicle License plates, as well as requirements and red tape that continue to plague the agency.

Unfortunately Asec. Galvante finds himself pressed between a rock and a hard place since there are laws, procedures as well as overwhelming political pressure involved in the procurement of said plates. According to whispers inside the LTO, some people in Malacañang lobbied for one bidder who ended up not having all the necessary requirements. So a losing bidder has now gone to court and is planning to “Go to town” and talk about the blatant favoritism for the “incomplete bidder.” There is also a case filed by a member of Congress (OFW partylist) asking the Supreme Court to nullify the bidding. The Speaker may complain all he wants but in the end he won’t be the one facing the Sandigan Bayan, it will be respondent Edgar Galvante.

To be honest about it Asec. Galvante is just a substitute punching bag in all this because the real target of all this scrutiny is actually DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade with whom Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has a wide range of disagreements on how to run the department. Speaker Alvarez has served as DOTC Secretary and wants to believe that he knows better and has all the solutions. The problem is, I don’t think “Tatay Digong” approves of public spats and dislikes disrespect of his elders and classmates in the Cabinet, thus Galvante has to roll with the punches.

On the other hand, there is talk that someone has been eyeing the position of Galvante and that the LTO Boss will only be in office until Dec. 31. This is scary because such “talks” or rumors are generally self-fulfilling or accurate. But the question is: Who is the incoming candidate and how can he achieve or overhaul institutionalized obstacles that Galvante and his predecessor could not scale or defeat? At the moment, barring TRO’s or political interventions on the procurement, the LTO has announced that new plates will start becoming available by April as I mentioned in previous columns. So if Asec Galvante is replaced, “the new boy in town” who replaces Galvante will end up grabbing the credit for all the hard work that Asec. Galvante and his directors at the LTO have done.

In case Speaker Alvarez has not been properly informed, all the people in the LTO particularly for NCR and Region 4 have been busy issuing five-year license cards even on Saturdays and Sundays (for several months) with the full support of the Employees Union and the leadership of Asec. Galvante and Director Clarence Guinto. I have voluntarily given them advice FOR FREE and have witnessed their dedication and efforts first hand. So, as far as the plates and license cards go, Galvante and his people should be given “a break” if you can’t give them a pat on the back.

To be fair to Speaker Bebot Alvarez, he was on the money when he talked about red tape and this is where Speaker Alvarez can hit the gold mine if he makes a mental decision to help solve the problems inside the LTO and not just point them out.

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The good Speaker should go beyond concerns for plates for new vehicles which cover “Rich People’s Problems,” but dive into the Red Tape on change of color, change of engine, transfer of ownership, insurance, change of body types all of which have at least four or five requirements. This does not even cover the obstacle you face when dealing with Stradcom personnel who can be immovable or belligerent about initials, dots etc. and who have been known to question even the endorsement of directors and the Asec.

The Speaker should also ask about a desk full of specially crafted internal policies that were put in by past political appointees before Galvante, who made rules in order to line their pockets. Rules such as centralization for new registrations in select offices or regions. For example, all vehicles sold in SBMA, which is in Olongapo and has its own LTO office, have to be registered in Pampanga. At one time certain types of registrations were also centralized to East Avenue instead of being spread out to the regional office or LTO district office concerned.

At least three regional directors complained to me about officers forbidding the data take on or update of “old” or “vintage cars” even if the documents were in order and the vehicles were on file. It turned out those past officers were in bed with certain car manufacturers who were paying P500 per new car registration while the vintage cars were not bringing in any dough to line their pockets! The rerouting or centralization was also done to increase the revenue and the resulting promotion for certain individuals.

Yes there are many sins from the past that need to be exorcised out of the LTO and even more improvements that can be done, IF, this is the goal and “nothing else.” Instead of trying to kick out Asec. Galvante I humbly suggest to Speaker Alvarez to consider calling in his friends and former colleagues among car enthusiasts, 4 X 4 drivers, as well as dealers and manufacturers to bring to the table their talents, intellect and effort to help Asec. Galvante and the entire LTO to address problems, remove red tape and provide exceptional services. I know personally that this would be greatly welcomed and appreciated by those who serve inside LTO.

Knowing the Speaker’s passion and enthusiasm as a car enthusiast and a dedicated public servant, I encourage him to consider this Biblical advise from the Book of Proverbs 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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