BTAO chief ready to face raps, says no carnapping committed

Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO) chief Patrick Lacson and his deputy Jose Antonio Robello (left) at a press conference on Tuesday.*

Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO) chief Patrick Lacson said on Tuesday, July 9, that he is ready to face any charges filed against him in court for the impounding of eight modern jeepneys as   no crime has been committed.

BTAO was just enforcing the law, no carnapping was committed, he said.

The eight modern jeepneys were flagged down and towed on Friday, July 7,   because they were operating with expired franchises making them colorum vehicles in violation of City Ordinance 09-17-818, BTAO Deputy Chief Jose Antonio Robello said.

The vehicles were released to Choret Corp. on Saturday.        

Lawyer Rey Gorgonio, who represents Philip Burata, said they are filing carnapping or grave coercion charges before the Bacolod City Prosecutor’s Office, and graft and corruption raps before the Office of the Ombudsman against Lacson, Metro Towing Services and the traffic enforcer involved.

Lawyer Elnora Orola Abaygar said Choret Corp.  is the registered owner of the impounded vehicles and had the right to claim them from BTAO.

Choret Corp. has filed cases for 38 counts of carnapping against Burata that are pending before the Bacolod City Prosecutor’s Office, she said.

Abaygar said Choret Corp. assigned Burata to oversee the operation of the modern jeepneys plying the Punta Taytay-Fr. Ferrero loop. Since September 2023 Burata had not remitted the income of 44 modern jeepneys due to the corporation, including the mortgage obligation, estimated to total P20 million, she added.

Choret Corp.  is just a trustee for and behalf of the real owners of the buses, who include Burata, Gorgonio said.

Despite a pending case that has yet to decide who the real owners of the modern jeepneys are, Lacson is saying that the owner is Choret Corp., Gorgonio said.

Gorgonio also said the BTAO did not issue citation tickets when it impounded the eight vehicles, the intention was just to take the buses for Choret.

Citation tickets were not immediately issued when the vehicles were impounded for having no franchise and 2024 stickers issued by city government because the drivers refused to surrender their licenses, Robello said.

The citation tickets were issued when the vehicles were retrieved by Choret Corp. on Saturday, he added.

Lacson stressed that the BTAO has nothing to do with the dispute between Choret Corp.  and Burata.*

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