DOTr names Villacorta as LTO caretaker

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — Transportation Secretary Jimmy Bautista named Assistant Secretary Hector Villacorta as caretaker of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in light of the resignation of Jay Art Tugade.

Bautista said on Tuesday that Villacorta will hold the LTO top post until Malacañang appoints a permanent chief, adding that there were a number of applicants for the position.

"He is a very capable person. He has been with the government for many years. He was with COA (Commission on Appointments) for many years na level of secretary and he is a lawyer and he is qualified. But of course, we will wait for the final appointment," the secretary said of Villacorta.

Villacorta is current transportation assistant secretary for communications and commuter affairs. He was the secretary of the Commission on Appointments (CA) during the Senate leadership of Senators Koko Pimentel and Tito Sotto.

Villacorta said he will focus on resolving the lack of plastic cards and blank vehicle license plates, and will do an inventory of all the financial and physical resources of the agency.

"This is not really a transition. It is a continuation of the efforts done by the LTO all these many decades. We live in an institution where personalities may change but we will carry on," he said.

Last shots fired

During the turnover ceremonies at the LTO headquarters on Wednesday, Tugade again took a swipe at Bautista.

He cited differences in perspectives and principles as reasons for quitting earlier this month.

"Napakahirap po dahil talagang gusto nga po namin talagang ituloy, pero dahil nga po sa pagkakaiba po ng pananaw, sa pagkakaiba po ng paniniwala, saka siguro po prinsipyo sa buhay na rin po namin ni Secretary Jimmy Bautista. Dahil po dito pinili ko na lang po bigyan si Sec. Jimmy Bautista ng kalayaan na piliin kung sino po ang mamumuno dito sa LTO, na mamili po siya kung sino po yung makakasundo niya at mamili po siya dun sa aayon sa mga polisiya na gusto po ni Sec Jimmy," he said.

[Translation: It's tough because I wanted to continue, but I can't due to differences in perspectives, beliefs, and principles with Sec. Jimmy Bautista. Because of this, I gave him the freedom to choose who he wants to lead LTO — someone he can get along with and someone who believes in the same policies.]

In response, Bautista thanked Tugade for his stint as LTO chief, reiterating that it was Tugade's choice to resign.

"I am very sorry that we will not be working together. I wish we can work together but it's your decision to leave LTO. I respect your decision and I look forward to still work, communicate with you," the transportation chief said.

Tugade was initially appointed general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority. Days after, Cesar Chiong was reappointed to replace Tugade.

In November 2022, Tugade was appointed LTO chief.

In April, Tugade and Bautista blamed each other for the depleting supply of plastic cards for driver's license and blank vehicle license plates.

Tugade said the department took over the bidding of plastic cards and license plates early this year resulting in delays.

On the other hand, the transportation department said it was LTO's fault since it failed to conduct early procurement.

As Tugade leaves his office, he reported his accomplishments including the efforts to create digital driver's license, creation of additional 10 LTO satellite offices, free theoretical and practical driving courses, and the increase in LTO's revenue during the first quarter of the year.