Roque accuses LTO-7 chief of extortion
(The Freeman) - September 23, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Presidential spokesman Harry Roque yesterday accused a regional transportation official of extorting money from motorcycle distributors and vowed to bring up the issue before the national leadership.

Roque confirmed that he was referring to Victor Caindec, regional director of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Central Visayas, when he talked about corruption in the agency last Monday.

"Okay, since Caindec brought out his own name, yes, I was referring to Caindec. I have affidavits to prove that he is extorting money from motorcycle distributors and this is a matter of public document already. When they did not agree to give him a higher amount, he came up with different hindrances," Roque said at a press briefing.

"Now, I brought this attention to (LTO chief) Asec. (Edgar) Galvante, he allowed the registration of motorcycles in Cebu to be done outside of Cebu and almost all dealers of motorcycles registered outside of Cebu," he added.

Roque was asked to react to Caindec's statement that he felt alluded to by the Palace spokesman's remarks last Monday. Caindec has expressed readiness to prove his innocence, claiming that the accusations against him surfaced after he had started to look into complaints against some vehicle dealers.

Roque said he has decided to talk about the alleged corruption in LTO because he stands for "good government."

"From the very beginning I stand for good government together with the President, so that's the motivation. So I’m supported by public documents and the corresponding charges will be charged," the Palace spokesman said.

"The President wants zero corruption...Do not commit the mistake of other officials who claimed that I do not speak for the President when it comes to corruption. Let's see. I will bring the matter up now to the top leadership," he added.

Bribery?

In a separate interview, Caindec has strongly belied the allegations leveled against him by Roque.

He even questioned Roque’s intention for calling him out.

Caindec said it was him who was bribed twice by a big-time motorcycle dealership group.

“How could you be accused of extortion when you reported the investigation to all the transport stakeholders? It is just absurd. What hurts me the most, kami na gani ang nagbuhat sa sakto, ako pa ang gibali,” he said in a virtual press conference.

Caindec said that Roque asked him to be fired after he discovered an anomaly in the motorcycle registration process and discovered a possible large-scale tax evasion by these dealers related to car registrations.

“In my humble opinion, as this action is really meant to shake the tree and pressure my stakeholders to fire me out, perhaps it is only fair for me to openly ask you and hopefully draw a few conclusions of my own,” he said.

Caindec said he should be given a chance to present his side and present the trail of corruption against these dealers.

He said he submitted a report to LTO Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante about his office's discovery of fraudulent practices being perpetuated by several dealerships belonging to one powerful clan, which controls a significant share of the motorcycle retail market in the Visayas and Mindanao.

It is the first large-scale tax evasion uncovered by a regional office of LTO, he said.

The report was copy furnished to DOTR Secretary Arthur Tugade, Sen. Bong Go, Sen. Richard Gordon, and Office of the Presidential Assistant for Visayas Sec. Michael Dino.

Caindec said if Roque’s intentions are purely to validate the allegations being hurled against him, the communications and case records are all in the possession of the proper transportation stakeholders.

 “I have always been a President’s man and I think most of the actions I have taken as regional director of LTO-7 points that I have been trying my best even with great limitations to deliver the President’s promise to rid government of corruption and deliver better service to the people,” he said. — Philippine Star News Service and Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon KQD (FREEMAN)

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