LTO vows prison time for fixers and their patrons, and we hope they strongly enforce it

Filipinos know of the phrase “God knows Hudas not pay”. As a play on “who does not pay”, it’s something said when referring to individuals who are, put nicely, shady. The LTO is all about tracking down these individuals now and they vow nothing less than jail time for their resident Hudas, the fixers.

Current LTO Officer-in-Charge and Executive Director Atty. Romeo Vera Cruz who was appointed to this post on July 1 has issued a stern warning to fixers: “Your time in prison will come.”

LTO apprehends two fixers in entrapment operation

For those who may doubt the agency’s resolve, they’ve started doing good on their word as early as July 6. In what was an entrapment operation conducted by the Investigation and Intelligence Division of Vera Cruz’s office, two individuals were arrested. They were offering non-appearance renewal of motor vehicle registration transactions and were processing payments online and through physical meets. It turns out that they’ll be set as examples.

Together with the Quezon City-Diliman Anti-Cybercrime Team, a member of the joint task force posed as a “customer” and employed a fixer to process his non-appearance registration. As we all know, all vehicle registrations call for the actual vehicle to be brought to the LTO. When the job was done, the fixer sent word that the vehicle’s OR is available for pickup. It was during this meet that he was apprehended. But it gets better.

“The LTO will relentlessly operate against these spurious individuals in our effort to clean up the bureaucracy to protect our clients,” Atty Romeo Vera Cruz, LTO OIC

During interrogation, the “footwork” fixer named another accomplice who works inside the LTO Novaliches District Office. He, too, was arrested. At the end of the day, they are found to have violated Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code on deceit/swindling (estafa) and Republic Act (RA) No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery (EODB EGSD) Act of 2018, both in relation to Section 6 of RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012).

After this series of events, Vera Cruz reminded employees of the agency to not engage in fixing activities. Like LTO employees, private individuals who might want to employ the services of fixers were likewise warned that they will be dealt with under the full force of the law. “To all LTO clients, please refrain from patronizing fixers for your own protection. You may also be equally liable under the law,” Vera Cruz said.

The case of the two apprehended fixers is but one of the many transactions that can be exploited through fixing. From Permits to Licenses to even apprehension information, these can be easily manipulated if the price is right, and when dealing with fixers, it’s the “convenience”, more than anything, that erring individuals pay for. Sadly, this mentality has been ingrained in our society, and clearly, it has to stop.

Yes, the LTO needs to clean its ranks first, that much we know. But if the operation is a sign of things to come, then maybe, just maybe, there might now be a stronger resolve to change the way that the agency operates. Until it’s completely eradicated, those who choose to do things properly and legally will have their eyes set on more fixers being apprehended. A lot have waited for these illegal operations to cease, and now, we’re seeing action, at least.

While we’re counting on Atty. Vera Cruz and his team, we should police ourselves as well. We wouldn’t want to be the Hudas who does not pay now, would we? Just do what’s right, and that should be enough to avoid time behind those cold, steel bars.

Mikko Juangco
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