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Angie M. Rosales

The government should not stop at imposing preventive suspension against Dimple Star bus company, Sen. Grace Poe yesterday said.

The chairman of the Senate public services committee said the Land Transportation Office (LTO) should look into reports on alleged rampant practice of “no-show” or non-appearance of vehicles seeking new or renewal of their registration or franchise or during emission test.
“The information that reached us said that in paper, motor vehicles undergo and pass the test but the reality is a number of them were never tested,” Poe said.
The annual registration of motor vehicles includes not only emission test, but a complete inspection.
The senator was further told that some LTO employees allegedly receive bribe during the stage of vehicle inspection in exchange for approval even without the physical inspection of vehicles.
Some bus companies, on the other hand, have designated representatives who deal with LTO employees for their fleet to get a clean bill without testing, for a fee while in some cases, the chassis and engine do not also match in the original document because the operator changed them.
“If indeed true, then we can only imagine that because of this corrupt practice in the LTO, many vehicles, in whatever condition, can ply our roads, putting in peril unsuspecting passengers and commuters,” Poe said.
“Is there even an effective way of checking the road worthiness of vehicles already on the streets?” she added.
Poe said the LTO should look into the bigger picture of how its personnel conducts inspection of vehicles before registration or franchising.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to take into account the number of accidents in the past where the Dimple Star fleet of buses, now given a 30-day preventive suspension by the said agency, were involved.
She said that stricter tests should also be done on buses that have notorious accident records.
“Where is the actual testing conducted? In cases where the LTO inspectors go to the garage of bus companies to do the testing and inspection, how sure are we that these inspectors are really doing their job and do not accept bribe money?” she said.
Poe has a pending bill that would create the National Transportation Safety Board that would be the sole agency tasked to look into transportation-related accidents and determining their causes. This would cover land, air, sea, including railways and pipeline systems.
She said the enactment of the measure would be the first step toward safer roads for the people.


Former President Benigno Aquino and a number of his officials will be held accountable in the Dengvaxia mess, Sen. JV Ejercito yesterday said as he dropped hints on the possible contents of the Senate committee report on the anti-dengue vaccine controversy.

“One thing is certain, the timeline says it all and that (it can be) concluded it was really done in haste and unprecedented speed. Those who would be found liable have to face the music,” Ejercito, chairman of the committee on health and co-chairman in the probe into the Dengvaxia issue, said in a news forum.
Ejercito, when asked who should be held liable, named former Departments of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad, Health (DoH) Secretary Janette Garin as well as the French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur.
At the very least, Aquino and his former officials should be charged with technical malversation and gross negligence as they should have proceeded with caution in carrying out a mass immunization program since the government has been forewarned by vaccine expert Dr. Scott Halstead.
“There was a word of caution from Halstead. Those who had anything to do with Dengvaxia are also liable,” Ejercito said.
“Maybe we just have to wait for the committee report, but for main operators definitely it’s Abad, he has to answer. He should answer my concern about the use of the savings without the congressional appropriations. That’s tantamount to technical malversation,” he added.
Ejercito said Garin has also to answer for allowing Dengvaxia to be given to over 830,000 students in a mass vaccination program despite warnings from experts.
“Probably, Garin has also to answer in the implementation of the project,” he said.
While Aquino and his former officials tried to justify the allocation of P3 billion, citing that it came from savings at that time, Ejercito was not easily convinced, saying that there should have been congressional appropriations for such spending.
“The spending did not go through GAA (General Appropriations Act) and at the same time they used the Miscellaneous and Personal Benefit Fund (MPBF) which is entirely different from the vaccine. This is illegal as the law only allows savings to be transferred and used in the same category,” he said.

As to the former President, Aquino should be held accountable “being the last to sign, he must have assumed that all due diligence has done,” Ejercito said.
The senator also said Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi-Pasteur will also be held to account by the Senate panels over its “mental dishonesty,” as it allegedly did not reveal that the vaccine can cause severe dengue among those who have not yet been infected with the disease even if they had knowledge of this prior to their public disclosure in November 2017.
“They have to answer to this, everybody will be given their day in court. I think that will be the recommendation of the committee,” he said.
He said the Senate panel’s report will be largely based on the timeline Gordon presented in previous hearings, which detailed how the dengue vaccine was swiftly greenlighted to enter the Philippine market and how funds for its purchase was quickly released.
Aside from the Senate committee’s recommendations against Aquino and some of his former Cabinet officials, the House good government and public accountability committee is also set to recommend that officials from the previous administration to be held liable over the Dengvaxia vaccine.


Administration allies in the majority bloc in the Senate are disappointed with Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III with the way they’re not being prioritized or given assurance of slot in the ruling PDP-Laban senatorial slate.

Re-electionist senators are now eyeing of aligning themselves with presidential daughter’s newly-formed local political party, the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Sen. JV Ejercito disclosed this along with the revelation that Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson have committed to be their campaign manager in the coming 2019 mid-term elections.
Ejercito, one of the re-electionists called their group “the force” — composed of Senators Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara — said they’re now banking on support of Carpio and her regional political party, especially if the PDP-Laban will not include all of them in the administration’s senatorial slate.
Sen. Bam Aquino, another re-electionist, is currently aligned with the minority bloc.
In a recent visit in Davao City, Ejercito said he has managed to talk to Carpio and she seems to be open to supporting them.
“It is possible for them to adopt senatorial candidates or to adopt me for example,” he said.
“She was (very open to the idea) because she understood our predicament,” Ejercito added.
The sentiment of the re-electionist colleagues in the majority bloc, according to the senator, is that Pimentel, being the Senate chief and president of PDP-Laban, does not seem to be asserting his leadership and “fighting” to have his peers secure a slot in the administration’s senatorial slate.
“We have been very supportive of the administration. We have been very supportive of the measures or anything that the administration would need.
Performance-wise, Ejercito said they have proven themselves that they have been discharging their duties and their mandate.
“You can look at the track record, you can look at the records and I think it will speak for itself,” he said.
Ejercito said they’re emboldened by the support expressed by Sotto and Lacson
“And what is good about it and very encouraging even the non-reelectionst senators, Sotto and Ping (Lacson) have expressed their support to the group. Sotto already volunteered to be the campaign manager of the force. The force muna. We should call it ‘the force,’” he said.
Lacson told their group that he’s willing to lend a hand in their re-election.
“That’s very encouraging coming from veteran senators. O’m hoping that our performance and with the help of my group, the force we’ll be able to still make it,” he said.


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