Roque confirms LTO Central Visayas director Victor Caindec probed for corruption

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Land Transportation Office Region 7 Director Victor Caindec

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday that Victor Caindec, regional director of Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Central Visayas, is under investigation for corruption and wanted charges be filed against the Region 7 official.

Roque confirmed during his press briefing that Caindec was the "corrupt official" he alluded to on Monday, claiming that he is tied to anomalies on the delayed release of motorcycle plates and RFID stickers in the region.

"Yes, I was referring to Caindec," the palace spokesman said. "I have affidavits to prove na kinikikilan niya 'yung mga [he extorted money from] motorcycle distributors. This is a matter of public document already."

"Nang hindi po pumayag sa mataas 'yung kikil na ibibigay sa kanya, tsaka po siya nagkaroon ng kung ano-anong hadlang [When people did not agree to pay the amount he wanted, that's when he started being a hindrance]," he added.

Roque previously warned the LTO regional director to "shape up," adding that authorities are giving him time to rectify his supposed misdeeds. Some groups have complained about Caindec back in July for delays in the processing and release of certificates of registration for new cars and motorcycles in the region.

In a separate press conference spoken in the vernacular, Caindec claimed that Roque asked that he be fired after he "discovered anomalies in the car registration process," particularly the tax evasion schemes among car dealers. Caindec also questioned Roque's motive in calling him out.

"I got a call from the Assistant Secretary (Edgar Galvante) telling me, 'ayusin mo 'yan kasi si Secretary Roque, tumatawag [fix that issue because Secretary Roque is calling about it].' I got that to mean that must be good news initially because the issue is now in the perspective of higher government officials," Caindec said in an online press conference with Cebu-based reporters. "Apparently, in a series of other calls, there seems to be pressure on my side to no longer continue with the investigations."

Contrary to Roque's claims, Caindec said he was the one offered a bribe to drop the probe into local dealers who were allegedly selling motorcycles prior to securing LTO registration. He also denied causing delays in the licensing process, saying instead that there is a near-zero backog in pending applications in the region.

Caindec also questioned Roque's ties to the issue, saying that he is the former associate of the lawyer of the car dealer under investigation.

"I am supported by public documents and the corresponding charges will be (filed)," Roque responded, saying it's the same thing he did when he went after PhilHealth in 2019 for ghost dialysis payments.

However, Roque said he brought up the issue to LTO chief Galvante and it was only then when motorcycle owners in Cebu were allowed to register with LTO offices outside the province. He accused Caindec of suddenly running to the Bureau of Internal Revenue to get even with motorcycle distributors after they exposed him to authorities.

Roque then reiterated his warning against critics who claim that he does not speak on the President's behalf: "Tingnan po natin [We'll see about that]," he said. "I will bring the matter up now to the top leadership."

​For his part, Caindec said he has informed former Presidential aide and now Senator Bong Go and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino about the supposed massive tax evasion among Cebu dealerships.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously said he will not tolerate officials caught even with just a "whiff" of corruption. However, Roque on Monday said the LTO executive will be given a chance to clean up his act after he was tagged in the reported dirty deals possibly worth millions of pesos.

Cebu-based journalist Dale Israel contributed to this report.