DOTR-CAR official charged for extortion

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet  – An official of the Cordillera office of the Department of Transportation and Railways (DOTR-CAR) is now in hot water after allegedly deceiving officers and members of the Cruz, Alapang, Bahong, Alno Cooperative Operators and Drivers Association, Inc. (CABACODA) into parting with their money by promising to allegedly issue them transport franchises which they learned to be impossible to happen.

A 3-page joint affidavit was filed by complainants Anthony M. Polido, Fidel B. Carbonel, Jr., Ian C. Palaci, Jon M. Polido, Leonida S. Abatchi, Noel F. Cheng, Anaydos E. Apolinario and Eliezer A. Pasigon.

Cheng and Pasigon, however, did not affix their signatures on the joint affidavit.

In the 3-page joint affidavit, the complainants claimed that DOTR-CAR assistant regional director Mohammad Nasser Abbas promised to issue them transport franchises for their Tamaraw Fx vehicles to serve as garage service last year after having paid substantial amounts but the promise was never fulfilled by the official to date.

Based on their joint affidavit, sometime in April 2017, they decided to form the CABACODA which would offer garage shuttle services and will operate from Cruz.

Two of their members, Frank and Lawrence Amistoso, informed the group that their relative, a certain Jonathan Patnugot or Jojo, is a close aide of Abbas and that he could refer them to the DOTR-CAR official for his assistance to realize their objective of securing transport franchises to their vehicles.

The complainants claimed that they met Jojo who then brought them to Abbas in his office at the land Transportation Office building in Pacdal, Baguio City sometime in June 2017.

When they met Abbas, the DOTR-CAR official was already holding the certificates of registration and official receipts of their vehicles plus the other supporting documents that they earlier submitted to Jojo as part of their transport franchise application.

During their meeting, the complainants claimed that Abbas declared that he would issue them the required transport franchises that they had been longing for and that he even added that they will be the first ones that he would grant such franchises and that by doing so, he will be creating a legacy which they would remember him.

Because the group was intending to use Tamaraw Fx vehicles for their garage shuttle services, they were previously informed by other people that they would not be able to secure franchises for said vehicles because they are already too old or do not comply with Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) standards as to the year model and that there still existed a moratorium on the acceptance of transport franchise applications.

However, Abbas assured them that he will be able to help them secure the necessary transport franchises that will enable them to operate legally, thus, they have no reason to doubt his statements because he was a ranking DOTR-CAR official.

The complainants disclosed that they were then informed that they will have to pay processing fees to be paid to the DOTR central office which they paid considering the assurances made by Abbas and they were told that the substantial amount they paid will be deposited to the bank account of the DOTR central office.

According to them, some of their members were asked to pay P15,000 while some of them were asked to pay P10,000 and upon inquiry, they learned that 15 of their members paid P15,000 each while 15 more, including them, paid P10,000 each.

A few months later, they learned about the issuance of the Omnibus Franchising guidelines and based on the rules, it would be impossible for them to be issued a transport franchise since they could not comply with the year model requirement as well as well as the requirements for Euro 4 engines and numerous standards.

“We remained optimistic and confident that we would be able to secure transport franchises for our vehicles because ARB Abbas promised to issue them to us and we had already paid the supposed processing fees as required,” the joint affidavit stated.

Sometime in November 2017, they were informed by Jojo that Abbas will issue them temporary special permits which they could use to operate legally pending the issuance of the transport franchises that he promised them but they had to pay P5,000 for the said special permit.

The complainants argued the so-called special permit was designed to look like it was just a letter request from CABACODA, INC. to ARD Abbas but it was rather obvious that the purported letter was used to mask or to disguise the special permit issued by Abbas. Divulging the fact that the group never sent a letter to Abbas requesting for the issuance of  a supposed special permit.

The complainants asserted that as can be seen from the special permit itself, the said documents contain the logo and the name of the DOTR and below were the words TEMPORARY SPECIAL PERMIT, all printed in large font.

“If it were true that the same was an actual letter from CABACODA, Inc. to ARD Abbas, there would be no logical reason why such words and the DOTR logo would be prominently included or printed there,” the affidavit added.

Moreover, the complainants stated that the signature of Abbas was found on the lower left part of the special permit and if indeed, the document was really a letter from CABACOD, Inc. to ARD Abbas, there is no logical reason for Abbas to sign thereon and it would seem that the signature of Abbas on the special permit is actually the distinguishing marks on the documents which would confirm that Abbas has given his imprimatur on the document.

DOTR investigators initially conducted an interview of the complainants for them to submit their appropriate findings and recommendations on the complaint for the implementation of the appropriate sanctions against erring DOTR-CAR officials.

Abbas, in a Bombo Radio Baguio interview, denies all the accusations against him.

“This is false accusation. With my present salary and, not to boast, coming from a wealthy family gives me no reason to do illegal acts such as collecting money illegally.” Abbas said

By HENT

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