DOTr suspends OTC chief, 2 others due to corruption allegations

MANILA — Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade has suspended the chief of the Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) and two other officials over the alleged misuse of funds worth PHP3.3 million allocated for the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

A 90-day preventive suspension was imposed on OTC Chairman Emmanuel Virtucio, Executive Director Eugene Pabualan, and Finance and Administration Division Chief/Special Disbursing Officer Wilfredo Clave Jr. pending results of an investigation due to grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, according to a suspension order signed by DOTr Undersecretary for Administration Artemio Tuazon Jr.

They were given 72 hours to respond to the charges.

In a statement Thursday, the DOTr said it has downloaded PHP3.3 million to the OTC for the implementation of the PUVMP last December 15, 2017.

However, the OTC immediately released the amount as cash advances: PHP2 million to Pabualan and PHP1.3 million to Clave, which they deposited to their personal accounts, according to a report of the Commission on Audit (COA) for 2017.

Only PHP33,000 had been liquidated by Pabualan, while Clave liquidated only PHP537,255.36, leaving an unliquidated balance worth around PHP 2.73 million.

Tugade has ordered that there will be no further downloading of funds unless the PHP3.3 million released to the OTC has been fully liquidated.

“Bakit naman dineposito ang pera sa kanilang personal account? Pera ba nila ýon? Ipaliwanag nila kung ano ang ginawa sa three million. Kung hindi ay hindi na sila muling makakatungtong sa kanilang opisina (Why did they deposit the funds to their personal accounts? Is that their money? They should explain what happened to the PHP3 million. If not, they should no longer be working in their offices),” Tugade said.

The same COA report likewise found out other irregularities allegedly committed by Virtucio such as his failure to request for authority to impose fees for certificates issued to participants of seminars and trainings conducted by the OTC; failure to observe rules and regulations involving the reimbursement of travel expenses; penalty charges due to airline trip cancellations; claiming transportation allowances despite being provided with a transportation vehicle; travel expenses amounting to over PHP200,000 not authorized by the DOTr Secretary; miscellaneous expenses incurred on weekends and holidays and in places not indicated in a travel order; and clothing allowance despite not having met the required six months of rendered services.

The OTC head was also asked to explain the office’s irregular procurement of a pick-up vehicle contrary to the approved Authority to Purchase issued by the DOTr Secretary, and through a negotiated procurement instead of a competitive bidding; the OTC’s hiring of Contract of Service Personnel who did not have technical expertise and performed regular functions of the agency; and using cash advances amounting PhP85,000 to procure common supplies, instead of applying the standard procurement procedure.

The OTC is an attached agency of the DOTr in charge of the regulation and supervision of accredited transportation cooperatives.