Transport units get new bosses

04/04/10 - TWO transport agencies of the government will be headed by new bosses, despite an election ban on promotions or transfers.

Alberto Suansing, a nephew of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, was relieved as chairman of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and appointed as chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

He replaced Assistant Secretary Arturo Lomibao, who was designated undersecretary for road transport.

The new LTFRB chairman is Jaime Pesigan, a former LTO executive director, who will assume office tomorrow—just in time for additional traffic as workers return to the city after the Holy Week.

With Pesigan’s entry and given his experience in enforcement, the transport sector is hoping for more disciplinary actions against taxi operators who field illegal units, said a transport sector leader who refused to be identified.

Suansing, as the new LTO chief, will face some immediate challenges, like a shortage in registration stickers and license plates.

An older and nagging challenge will be improving the public’s perception of corruption in the agency. The Social Weather Stations found, in a 2008 survey, that only 22 percent of respondents believed the LTO was “very/somewhat sincere” in fighting corruption, compared to 54 percent who thought it was “very/somewhat insincere.”

Suansing, Lomibao and Pesigan could not be contacted for comment. But LTO 7 Director Raul Aguilos believes that MalacaƱang and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) did not violate the election ban, because their appointments were signed before March 5.

Aguilos said that Suansing, who holds the rank of assistant secretary, will assume as LTO chief tomorrow.

When asked to comment, lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, Cebu provincial election supervisor, said that if the appointments were issued and signed before March 26, no violation was committed.

If these were signed after March 26, then an exemption from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would be required.

Castillano said the turnover of duties and responsibilities within the campaign period is allowed. What matters is the date of appointment, not the actual assumption of office.

Meanwhile, LTFRB 7 Director Romulo Bernardes said he will answer all the issues raised by some members of the Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Association (MCTOA), headed by Richard Cabucos.

These issues include the alleged issuance of franchises to new units acquired as replacements for taxis with abandoned or expired franchises.

Bernardes said that the issuance of franchises to replace abandoned taxis is pursuant to Memorandum Circular 2010-009, issued by the LTFRB en banc.

“I will reply to the points they raised, point by point,” Bernardes said. He said local officials who side with the taxi operators should not politicize the issues. (sunstar)

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