LTO firm in institutionalizing ‘genuine’ reforms

The government’s firm decision to institutionalize reforms in the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is being jeopardized by the “childish tantrums” of a private monopoly operating in the agency, LTO chief Virginia Torres said today.

Torres said the “nuisance suit” being planned by Stardcom Corp. against her  “is  actually a plain and simple  form of harassment  so that the company will always get its way with the agency .”

“My job here is to improve the services of the LTO. We  can only be effective if we can have a comprehensive review of all the agency’s operations. We cannot just allow the law to be violated and we must ensure that the welfare of the  taxpayers are being protected “ Torres said.

She said no entity within the agency  “should feel that it is an independent republic  that is off-limits to oversight . Kung ang Pangulo na hinalal ng bayan  ay tumatanggap ng puna at payo , sana  tayo rin. So no company should consider itself a sacred cow.”

Torres denied allegations made by  Stradcom officials that she was a party to the attempt by its former partners to take over the firm’s building inside the LTO compound in Quezon City last week .

“What I did was simply to implement the order of  Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose de Jesus that the data base on vehicle registration and drivers’ licenses, which was kept in the building,  will remain unharmed,” said Torres.

A melee broke out between Stradcom’s security  guards and their supposed replacements which were brought in by a group of businessmen  reportedly armed with a court order naming them as new owners of  the technology service  provider which had a multi-billion peso  contract with the LTO to process vehicle registrations and  drivers’ licenses.

“There was a commotion in my backyard so what should I do, just sit pretty? Kung may kaguluhan sa sarili mong bakuran di ka ba man lang ba sisilip para tingnan kung ano ang nangyayari? At tandaan nyo that it was confrontation between two groups of armed guards,” she said.

Torres recalled  that  the “intra-corporate dispute”  paralyzed LTO operations for one whole day, a stoppage which caused “inconvenienced to thousands of LTO clients .”

This prompted the agency, she said, “to step in, defuse an explosive situation and prevent the destruction of records and violence from breaking out. So when I received the call from the DOTC central office to protect the data base, then I had to go to the site personally .”

If this was misconstrued by Stradcom as favoring one group, Torres stressed, “then I am sorry for them for not getting their facts right.”

The LTO chief insisted she is ‘neutral’ on the corporate battle for Stradcom, “if there is one.”

“I am not here to take sides. Problema nila yan. Ang sa amin lang sa LTO, kung ano responsibilidad nila sa gobyerno at sa taongbayan dapat gampanan nila. Hindi dapat kami madamay sa kanilang gulo,” she said.

She laughed off Stradcom’s threat to file criminal charges against her, saying  she felt “like an innocent civilian sideswiped by two racing motorbikes” and that “harassment  goes with the job”.

“Dito sa LTO, lima singko ang harassment, galing sa mga may-ari ng mga colorum na sasakyan, mga sindikato, mga tutol sa mga tunay na reporma at sa tuwid na daan. Ganyang mga tao ang nanakot sa amin. Kung may kumpanya na gustong sumama sa kanila, nakakalungkot naman.

She said the LTO will go full-blast next year in improving services to the public.

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