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LTO chief faces 90-day suspension

LEGAZPI CITY --- The ax finally fell on the regional director of the Land Transportation Office in Bicol after he was ordered suspended for 90 days pending investigation of the formal charge filed against him for grave misconduct and other graft practices.

After evaluation of documents gathered, and finding prima facie evidence, a formal charge dated October 9, 2019 was filed by the Department of Transportation against LTO 5 Regional Director Mar Jose A. Magistrado for: (1) grave misconduct, (2) receiving for personal use of a fee, gift or other valuable things in the course of his official duties, and (3) for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Although copy of the order reached local newsmen only last Monday, the formal charge and suspension order were both released and dated on same day, October 9, 2019.

It was signed by Atty. Artemio U. Tuazon, Jr., OIC Undersecretary for Administration, Department of Transportation, who warned that the offenses committed are utmost punishable by dismissal from the service.

In the formal charge, the DOTr cited Magistrado “for orchestrating the solicitations of cash from four (4) bus companies (PHILTRANCO, DLTB, SUPERLINES [and] ISAROG) amounting to P15,000 each from September 2014 to September 2016 for a total of One Million Four Hundred Forty Thousand Pesos (P1,440,000.00) for two (2) years, for directly and indirectly benefiting from using dummies to win in the public bidding/auction of the impounded LTO motor vehicles and from taking advantage of your position to enrich yourself.”

Further, Magistrado was charged for receiving personal gifts and fees “when such fee, gift or other valuable thing is given by any person in the hope or expectation of receiving a favor or better treatment than that accorded to other persons, or committing acts punishable under the anti-graft laws, for knowingly and willfully receiving “payola” in exchange for protection or non-apprehension of out of line route…”

The charge stated that Magistrado’s conducts were prejudicial to the interest of the service that clearly run counter to the policy of promoting high standards of ethics in the public service and for tarnishing the image and integrity of the office that he represents.

Magistrado airs side

But Magistrado denied the accusations lodged against him, He said there was no complaint filed against him by any of the four bus companies mentioned.

He said it was on October 14 that he received the letter from the central office directing him to respond to the complaints filed against him and it was on the following day, October 15, 2019, that he was immediately ordered suspended.

“I’ve received on October 14 the letter from central office directing me to answer the accusations but on October 15 the suspension order was relayed to have taken effect. It was an automatic suspension charge but I was able to send my reply on October 17,” he said.

Magistrado accused a certain Eutiquio C. Bagasbas as behind the poison letters signed by one Marjorie San Buenventura and Salador Nardin and an alleged concerned bidder whose allegations and accusations were given not under oath.

“Therefore all intents and purposes are nothing more than ill-conceived stories, ludicrous and unattainable, to say the least. The filing of this [complaint] is tainted with malicious vendetta orchestrated at the behest of influential puppet masters who intend to force me out of the service,” Magistrado said in his reply letter.

Magistrado said that Bagasbas is a liar and was the one actually receiving payola, thus facing several complaints for extortion.

“He (Bagasbas) was and still is the one who extorted money from PUBs and UV Express operators. He was charged of extortion; unfortunately, he was not penalized and no investigation was ever done,” Magistrado lamented.

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