Mandatory Appearance of Applicants in Hearings of LTFRB Franchises (Epilogue)

Appearing that Mr. Gregorio Retuta is unhappy over his designation again as Hearing Officer in the LTFRB-CAR since this time, it is an added duty without pay, as claimed by him in his Comment submitted to the Regional Director wherein he stated that:

“Personally, I could have declined the designation easily because we are undermanned at LTO registration and it is an additional work with no additional compensation but I understood the predicament of the office and the convenience that has been caused to the LTFRB stakeholders due to the absence of a hearing officer. But being a public servant guided by the existing rules, I accepted the concurrent capacity as the hearing officer,”

he should have been thankful or with the complaints I filed for him to be replaced, instead of calling them “baseless, malicious and bereft of merit,” for which they are not.
Strictly speaking and to put things in their proper perspective, however, both my Complaints dated 4 May and 30 May 2016 were not intended as administrative complaints although the second one was in the form of Affidavit, otherwise, I would have preferred them to be filed with the Civil Service Commission or the Office of the Ombudsman, in which case, I could have included more allegations of serious infractions of the Rules and other omissions that I know were committed by Mr. Retuta during his tenure as Designated Hearing Officer in the first instance from 2007 to 2015. Rather, they were complaints intended merely for the cognizance and action of the Regional Director on a request for the replacement of Mr. Retuta as Hearing Officer, in view of his wrongful exercise of discretion of which he has none and clear deviation from the Rules, as my Letter of 9 June will show, thus:
“9 June 2016

FOR: Atty. Jose Eduardo L. Natividad
Regional Director, DOTC-CAR
Post Office Loop, Baguio City

Attn: Engr. Nordy Plaza
ARD for Transportation
DOTC-CAR, Baguio City

Subj: Urgent Request for Clarification on
Memorandum dated 2 June 2016,
Copy Is Hereto Attached.

Dear Sirs:

On 4 May 2016, I submitted a request contained in my letter entitled Complaint: With a Request to Enjoin Acts in Violation of LTFRB Rules and Procedures, a copy of which is hereto attached for easy reference.

To this day, no reply whether written or verbal, has been made by your Office in response to the request contained in the said letter complaint, despite the lapse of the period required to reply under Sec. 5 (a) of Republic Act 6713.

In the Memorandum dated 2 June 2016, this Office directed Hearing Officer Designate, Gregorio Retuta to continue conducting hearings of uncontested cases at the LTFRB-CAR. Unfortunately, nothing in the Memorandum suggested that my request to enjoin or restrain the acts of Mr. Retuta in hearing cases in violation of the procedures prescribed in the LTFRB Revised Rules of Practice and Procedures has been addressed.

In this respect, we should like to be clarified on whether or not:

1) On purpose, this Office has no intention to respond to our request to enjoin or restrain the violation of the Rules by Mr. Retuta;

2) The Office agrees or tolerates the violation of the rules in particular, Sec. 6 Rule 8 of the LTFRB Revised Rules requiring the mandatory and conjunctive appearance of applicants and counsels; and Sec. 7, Rule 8 requiring the resetting of cases in the failure of the applicants to appear in the initial hearing.

3) The Office supports the acts of Mr. Retuta in adopting, prescribing and following other procedures not consistent with the procedures mandated by the Rules, such as among others:

a) allowing counsels as Atty-in-Fact to appear in hearings in place of applicant or authorized representatives required by the Rules to appear in person.

b) requiring the mere submission of self-serving Explanation prepared by counsels indicating the reasons why the absent applicant / representative is unable to attend hearing which requirement, is in direct contradiction with and put to disrepute the mandate of the Rules in Sec. 6, Rule 8.

4) Moreover, whether or not, This Office does not mind approving applications granting CPCs “heard” by a non-lawyer in violation of the Rules; and

5) Whether or not, this Office is giving Mr. Retuta the privilege to exercise discretion to digress from the Rules of the Board, when such discretion is only given by law and the Board en banc or any two (2) of the Members of the Board.

Thank you for your immediate response to our concerns.

Respectfully,
Atty. James S. Valeros”

Unfortunately, in the failure of the Regional Director to address these urgent requests or complaints, the Hearing Officer, Mr. Gregorio Retuta who still is not a lawyer is free and able to continuously exempt himself from the Rules or adopt procedures not in accordance with the mandate of the Rules on quasi-judicial proceedings and selectively apply them conveniently as he sees fit.

Under these circumstances, what else can we do but hope that the next DOTC Regional Directors to be appointed by the new administration shall be different from all the past, that is: with political will to require all personnel to abide with the Rules, knowledgeable and competent in their jobs, with sense of urgency and mission, transparently incorruptible and above all, dedicated and loyal to public service.