Amid its heavily opposed procurement of 4×4 pickup trucks for the vice governor and all members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the Provincial Government of Bohol is embroiled in another vehicle-related controversy, this time over one of the Capitol’s vehicles which was caught bearing a false license plate number.
Police Executive Master Sergeant Marcelino Dacoylo of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (HPG) said that on Monday afternoon they flagged down in Baclayon town a Capitol-owned Mitsubishi Pajero sports utility vehicle (SUV) sporting a private plate number registered to a vehicle owned by a woman in Lapu-Lapu City.
Those on board the SUV were members of the Bohol Environmental Protection Task Force (BEPTF) led by retired colonel Alex Maglajos who were reportedly travelling from Garcia Hernandez town where they investigated an alleged illegal quarry operation.
Dacuylo said they were made aware of the irregularity through a report from Garcia Hernandez Mayor Tita Baja who provided the HPG with documents from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) showing that the plate number used by the Capitol SUV, GWT 383, is registered to another vehicle, a 2002 Daihatsu “S Pass” owned by one Leda Vida Ramirez of Lapu-Lapu City.
The LTO document showed that Ramirez’s vehicle is a UV (utility vehicle)-for-hire.
“Gi-check namo, tinuod man pud na naay violation,” said Dacuylo.
The “Driver’s Trip Ticket” shown by the BEPTF to the police indicated that the SUV’s driver was Alphard Gucor and that the vehicle’s plate number was supposed to be SEY-969, a red government plate.
The owner of the SUV could face violations against Batas Pambansa 43 which penalizes the illegal switching of license plates.
It stipulates that the violation is punishable by a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment of six months, or both, depending on the discretion of the court.
The vehicle also did not have a license plate in its rear end which is also a violation.
However, the Capitol SUV was not placed under police custody considering that the vehicle had a certificate of registration and the driver had a valid license, said Dacuylo.
It was also proven that the vehicle was not listed as a “hot car” or a stolen vehicle.
In the HPG’s incident report however, it was indicated that Maglajos refused to go with the HPG to their office for an investigation.
“The Team leader of BEPTF Retired Col Maglajos refused to follow us in our office for investigation,” the HPG’s Provincial Highway Patrol Team said in its report.
Meanwhile, Maglajos told the HPG that they switched the plates for security purposes and that they had with them the original car plate.
The Chronicle also tried to get the side of Provincial Legal Officer lawyer Nilo Ahat but he has not answered calls and replied to text messages.
It was Ahat who signed the BEPTF’s Travel Authority and “Driver’s Trip Ticket.” (R. Tutas)