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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

LTFRB ‘whistleblower’ cited for contempt

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Former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) executive assistant (EA) turned “whistleblower” Jeffrey Gallos Tumbado was cited for contempt by the House of Representatives on Monday for his unsubstantiated and inconsistent claims of corruption in the agency which he previously served.

House Committee on Transportation chairperson Rep. Romeo M. Acop made the decision in response to the motion of SAGIP party-list Rep.  Rodante D. Marcoleta.

Marcoleta made the motion after he was irked by what the lawmaker described as “changing testimonies” of Tumbado during the hearing.

“After each and every question Mr. Chair, there has not been any basis for us to believe any of his statements or answers or replies to every question for example as I have said even the text messages presented earlier, initially he said it was authentic. Then he said it was spliced,” the lawmaker said.

“So on the basis of our rules under Section 11, Paragraph E and F, Mr. Chair I move that he be declared in contempt,”he added.

Acop ruled in favor of Marcoleta’s motion and ordered Tumbado to be detained at the Batasang Pambansa Complex for a maximum of 10 days.

The motu proprio inquiry of the House Committee on Transportation was in response to the expose of Tumbado on October 9, 2023 about the alleged multi-million corruption in LTFRB.

Initially, he included LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III and Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista as among those involved in the said illegal activities in the agency. This prompted President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to suspend Guadiz.

Tumbado later recanted his initial claims, saying he has no direct knowledge of Guadiz as well as Bautista’s involvement in any instance of bribery in LTFRB. He admitted he only linked Guadiz in his expose after the latter transferred him to another position due to his misunderstanding with other EAs in the LTFRB.

The former media reporter also said his allegations were based on the complaints by some public transport vehicle operators, which were relayed to him.

During the course of the hearing, Tumbado invoked his right against self-incrimination when asked about the people involved in “spliced” SMS, which he supposedly sent to Guadiz on the said bribery incidents and attempts. Guadiz denied he received the said messages.

Tumbado admitted he might be affected in case Congress decides to file cases involving the illegal activity he revealed in LTFRB.

The committee later held an executive session, where Tumbado supposedly disclosed his personal knowledge on the illegal activity at the LTFRB due to slow processing time in the agency. 

Aside from the investigation in Congress, Tumbado is also set to appear before the National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday to substantiate his allegations on alleged corruption in LTFRB.

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