Aquino on ex-LTO chief Torres: If you go against my way, we’re not friends
“KAPAG gagawa ka ng salungat sa landas ko, hindi tayo magkaibigan.”
President Benigno Aquino III issued this stand Tuesday when asked to comment on the report that former Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres, a known ally of his, had allegedly tried to negotiate an illegal deal involving P100 million worth of smuggled sugar with the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Aquino said he has yet to personally talk to Torres about the allegations, which he first learned in a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“Ito ang landas ko eh. Kapag ikaw gumawa ng alam mong hindi ko gagawin, hindi tayo magkaibigan,” Aquino said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
“She’s supposed to be a sugar planter. She has leased land in Tarlac, Does it make sense for her to facilitate sugar smugglers?” he added.
The Inquirer earlier reported that Torres allegedly attempted to negotiate the release from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of at least 64 shipping containers of smuggled Thai sugar.
Torres, a reported shooting buddy of the President, showed up at BOC’s Intelligence Group (IG) office last Aug. 20 to do “business,” but left empty-handed.
Customs Deputy Commissioner Jessie Dellosa also confirmed to the Inquirer that the former assistant transportation secretary visited the IG office “to appeal her case.”
Torres allegedly dropped the name of the President during her visit to BOC and suggested that the proceeds from the smuggled sugar would be used in the 2016 elections.
“If your friendship is based on your ability to use me, then we are not friends,” Aquino said.
The smuggled sugar that the controversial ex-LTO chief tried to recover had been misdeclared as general merchandise, which was not covered by import permits from the Sugar Regulatory Administration under the Department of Agriculture.
The shipments, imported through alleged dummy firms, were part of more than 120 shipping containers of sugar that were the subject of at least 24 alert orders issued by the IG in the past five months.
Malacañang, through Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, earlier said that influence peddling will not be tolerated by the administration.
Torres was relieved of her post in LTO two years ago supposedly after being seen in a viral video playing on a slot machine in an unnamed casino.
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