October 18, 2023 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista yesterday filed cyber libel charges against transport group Manibela chairman Mar Valbuena and broadcaster Ira Panganiban for linking him to alleged corruption activities at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Bautista said Valbuena and Panganiban, national convenor of the Coalition of Filipino Commuters, accused him of accepting bribes.
“I just want to protect my name and reputation that I have been taking care of for almost 45 years,” Bautista told journalists.
Earlier, he denied involvement in any form of corruption since taking the helm of the Department of Transportation.
Bautista made the denial after former LTFRB employee Jeff Tumbado alleged that bribes in the transport board reached the DOTr, Office of the President and even some congressmen.
The allegations were made during a press conference organized by Manibela in Quezon City on Oct. 9.
Bautista said Panganiban made his allegations on his Facebook page.
Tumbado, head executive assistant of suspended LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III, has since recanted his allegations, saying these were “all unintentional and misguided” and “borne out of impulse, irrational thinking, misjudgment, poor decision making.”
Valbuena earlier said Tumbado alleged that Guadiz delivered money to Bautista as part of the “ruta for sale scheme.”
Bautista said he has spoken with Tumbado over the phone and the latter told him that he did not make any statement that the DOTr chief was involved in the irregularities in the LTFRB.
“I don’t know Tumbado. I can’t remember if I have met him. I am sad with these allegations,” he said in Filipino.
Bautista earlier asked the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the alleged corrupt practices and activities at the LTFRB.
He said the DOTr conducted a parallel investigation and has submitted an initial report to the Office of the President.
He refused to divulge the contents of the initial report.
Bautista said they aim to finish the internal investigation within this month.
“I cannot allow myself to be the subject of another’s desperate attempt to attain fame, especially when malicious, baseless and untruthful statements are hurled against me, if only to put a blemish on my untarnished track record and reputation of excellence and integrity,” Bautista said in the charge sheet, as quoted in a statement issued by the DOTr.
Justice Undersecretary Nicholas Felix Ty received the complaint at the DOJ.
Valbuena described Bautista’s complaint as pure harassment and abuse of authority.
“The charges will not silence me in revealing the truth about those who are involved in corruption,” Valbuena said in Filipino.
He clarified that the allegations of corruption came from Tumbado and not from him.
Valbuena committed to cooperate with authorities once the preliminary investigation on the case starts.
Panganiban said he has no idea what the case was all about as he was “simply reporting the news.”
Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has filed charges against a man posing as a fake enforcer involved in extortion scams in Quezon City.
The LTO identified the suspect as Jurdinito Rid Macula, who is now detained at the Quezon City police Station 7 in Cubao.
Macula was arrested after he posed as an LTO enforcer and flagged down a victim for allegedly using an unauthorized mirror. — Romina Cabrera, Rudy Santos