Nothing personal in looming abolition of traffic office, councilor says

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Councilor Al Victor Espino said there is nothing personal in the ordinance that he authored that will lead to the eventual abolition of the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO) headed by the current city traffic czar Police Major Junji Liba.

Espino, chairman of the Sanggunian Panlungsod’s Committee on Transportation and Traffic, confirmed that the ordinance he authored creating a Bacolod Traffic and Transport Management Department (BTTMD) will replace BTAO.

The ordinance was passed on its first reading, Wednesday.

When asked if the new department will overlap the functions of BTAO, Espino pointed out that “if you have an understanding of legislation, sorry to say, if there is a new ordinance it supersedes the old.”

When asked whether it would lead to the abolition of BTAO, Espino said “It won’t exist anymore.”

BTAO was created through City Ordinance 230 Series of 199.

Espino had expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of Liba as traffic czar of the city and has hinted that he will ask Mayor Alfredo Benitez to replace the latter.

Espino contended that BTAO should be headed by a civilian which means that “non-uniformed personnel should be assigned there.”

Liba is under the Philippine National Police.

For his part, Liba had said that Benitez designated him as the new head of BTAO in July 2023, so he will wait for the order from the mayor if he will be relieved.

Espino then claimed that he received threats after hinting at the removal of Liba.

“Do not touch Liba,” according to a text message he received.

Espino claimed that the proposed BTTMD aims to address the perennial traffic problem in the city and will have sections that will cater to the different transportation groups like the tricycles.

He said it will be manned by personalities totally different from that of BTAO.

Espino pointed out Liba is a policeman and is not getting his salary from the city adding that “how can you dictate somebody who is not under your employ?”

When asked whether it is his way of getting back and easing out Liba, Espino said he does not let his personal feelings get in the way of his job, as he only aims for the good of the public.