Yes, Virginia will retire by end of October
Virginia Torres, who heads the Land Transportation Office (LTO), will “retire” by the end of October, Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya confirmed on Monday.
The decision comes two months after a video posted on the Internet showing Torres playing a slot machine surfaced. Government officials are banned from playing in casinos.
But this was not the reason for her decision to end 33 years of government service, Torres, 60, said in interviews over radio and television on Monday.
Torres said she chose to retire to put to rest issues at the LTO, a portion of an interview with a television station (ANC) showed. She did not immediately respond to an Inquirer request seeking her comment.
Torres was appointed assistant secretary to head the LTO, one of the top revenue-generating agencies, when President Aquino won the 2010 presidential election on a platform of good governance. They are said to be shooting buddies.
Abaya confirmed Torres’ intention to retire in a text message. The LTO is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
Meeting with President
“She has met up with the President and I also had the chance to meet with her after,” Abaya said. “She has volunteered to file for retirement since she is already eligible.”
Abaya added that Torres’ replacement would be up to Aquino although “no names yet” had been floated at this point.
The transportation secretary also declined to comment on the status of an investigation the DOTC reportedly launched after Torres’ gambling video surfaced in mid-August.
Torres denied that she was asked to resign. A newspaper report on Monday said that the President had asked Torres to step down.
While the President let Torres go, Malacañang commended Torres for doing her job.
“Certainly, she has been part of our administration since Day One. She has been doing her job. She has opted to retire, considering that her retirement is nearing soon. She has been doing her job as LTO head and we commend her for that,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a briefing.
Lacierda said Torres met with the President on Monday last week, and later with Abaya.
Lacierda, however, deferred to the President to discuss the details of his meeting with Torres when he sits down with reporters covering him at the Asia Pacific Economic Forum CEO Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Deluged with complaints
This year, the government has been deluged with complaints over the LTO’s failure to issue stickers on the registration of vehicles.
In June 2011, Sen. Franklin Drilon asked Torres to resign for being a burden to the President.
The call came on the heels of the Department of Justice’s recommendation to file administrative charges against Torres for allegedly favoring one group in the ownership dispute of Stradcom Corp., the information technology (IT) service provider of LTO.
At the time, Torres was charged with graft in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the dispute.
New plates delayed
The LTO chief leaves behind unfinished projects, including a much-delayed program to issue new license plates for motorists.
The DOTC announced in August that the license plates would be issued by September.
The five-year contracts for the supply of motor vehicle license plates, amounting to P1.989 billion, and the supply of motorcycle license plates, amounting to P 1.196 billion, have been awarded to the joint venture of J. Knieriem B.V. Goes and Power Plates Development Concepts Inc.
The DOTC deadline was not met because of unresolved issues with the Department of Budget and Management.
Torres, a career employee at the LTO, hails from Tarlac, the province of Aquino.
Her time as LTO chief was marked with other controversies, including an incident in December 2010, when Torres participated in the takeover of the office of Stradcom, the IT services provider of the agency.
The DOTC, which is seeking to replace Stradcom, said it would reauction the IT services contract after a failed bidding exercise.
The LTO collected P14.65 billion in revenues in 2012.
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