Justice secretary frowns on LTO chief’s comments on Stradcom probe | Inquirer News

Justice secretary frowns on LTO chief’s comments on Stradcom probe

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:23 PM June 15, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — A word war is brewing between Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief on-leave Virginia Torres.

The tough-talking justice secretary has chided Torres over her statement accusing the Department of Justice (DOJ) of taking side in its investigation on December 9, 2010, takeover of the Stradcom Corp., the LTO’s lone IT provider.

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De Lima also took exception to Torres’ comment in a television interview that she was “irked” with the DOJ.

“Why did she say that? Why is she irked? Is it because the DOJ handled the investigation or is it over the recommendations we made?” De Lima told reporters on Tuesday.

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“It’s not our problem if our recommendation was not acceptable to her. I actually did not want to comment, but I would not want her to have the last say,” she added.

A panel created by De Lima to look into the Stradcom incident recommended to the Office of the President the filing of administrative case against Torres.

The DOJ fact-finding committee also recommended her preventive suspension pending Malacañang’s review of the report.

Torres, President benigno Aquino’s shooting buddy and province mate, assailed the DOJ panel’s findings, accusing its head, Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, of favoring the Stradcom faction of Cezar Quiambao.

But De Lima maintained that the panel she created to look into the violent confrontation between the two Stradcom factions had jurisdiction over the investigation of the intra-corporate issue of the LTO’s lone IT provider.

“Because I’m the head of the institution, I cannot take that those comments directed at the institution sitting down,” De Lima said in raised voice.

“No one has the right to do that to the DOJ… because we just did our job.”

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She also clarified that it was the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and not the DOJ which released to the media a copy of the report on the fact-finding inquiry into the Stradcom incident.

According to her, she gave her comments to the media only after the DOTC made public the report prepared by Baraan.

De Lima said her office also furnished Malacañang a copy of the panel’s report.

As to allegations that Torres was not given due process in the DOJ investigation, De Lima said such insinuations were “completely baseless and not true.”

“In fact, she even attended the first hearing,” she said.

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