Tugade relieves LTO employees over alleged extortion

MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered the relief of employees assigned at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in the province of Nueva Vizcaya over reports of extortion.

The relief order dated Friday, April 6, covers LTO personnel assigned to the Bayombong District Office and the Aritao Extension Office.

Tugade's actions were triggered by complaints from Nueva Vizcaya rice traders and truckers, who told President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting in Malacañang on Thursday evening, April 5, of alleged instances of corruption in the area. They said LTO personnel could earn as much as P1 million ($19,200) daily by extorting money from trucks bringing agricultural products out of the region.

Duterte then called Tugade to talk about the complaints of the rice traders and truckers, according to a release from the transportation department.

"Right after the phone call with the President, Secretary Tugade, who has long been advocating corrupt free and transparent governance, immediately instructed LTO Chief Edgar Galvante to swiftly execute a relief order to concerned officials and employees, pending the result of a thorough investigation," the department said in its press release.

LTO Regional Director Romeo Sales also revoked the deputation orders and Temporary Operator's Permit (TOPs) for LTO personnel assigned at the weigh bridge in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.

New LTO officials were assigned to the two officers in acting capacities, the transportation department said. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P52