Francis Tolentino steps down as MMDA chief
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino on Wednesday said he is resigning from his post, ahead of an expected senatorial run in the 2016 elections and amid heavy criticisms from the “Playgirls” controversy.
Tolentino said he would submit today his resignation letter, which he signed before members of the media and MMDA employees at the agency’s headquarters in Makati City, to President Benigno Aquino III.
“Sa loob po ng mahigit limang taon ay ibinuhos ko ang aking sariling kaalaman at kakayahan sa itinuturing na pinakamahirap na trabaho sa gabinete—ang MMDA. Saksi po ang lahat at batid po ninyo ang halos 24/7 na paglilingkod na ginawa ko sa MMDA. Ako po ay taos-pusong nagpapasalamat–habang buhay kong tatanawin ang ginintuang alaala na makasama kayo bilang aking Pangulo sa paglilingkod sa sambayanan,” Tolentino said.
(In five years, I gave all my knowledge and abilities to what is known as the hardest job in the cabinet–the MMDA. Everyone was a witness and was aware of my almost 24/7 service to the MMDA. I am very thankful–for the rest of my life, I will regard this as a precious memory that I was alongside you as my President in serving the people.)
“Dumating na po ang panahon na ako ay umalis na para lumahok sa isang mas mataas na antas na paglilingkod sa bayan ngayong 2016. Dahil po dito ako po ay nagbibitiw na bilang chairman ng MMDA. Lubos na gumagalang at nanatiling tapat na kaibigan, ang inyong lingkod,” he added.
(The time has come for me to leave in order to seek a higher position in serving the country this 2016. Because of this, I am stepping down as chairman of the MMDA. Respectfully I remain your friend and servant.)
Before his announcement, Tolentino, who formally declared his intention to seek a Senate post presumably under the ruling Liberal Party (LP) last week, was seen packing his things in his office.
“Ipadadala ko po ito ngayon sa Malacañang lakip ang pagasa na ang pamilya ng MMDA ay patuloy na magkakaisa. Kung meron po akong hindi napagbigyan na ilan, kung meron po akong nasaktan na ilan, kung meron po akong kakaunting paraan ay hindi ko nadulutan ng solusyon, sana po ay maunawaan n’yo na isinusulong ko dito sa ating ahensya ang kapakanan ng nakararami,” Tolentino said.
(I will send this [resignation letter] to the Malacañang enclosed with the hope that the MMDA family will continue to be united. If there are some that I didn’t accommodate, if I hurt anyone, if there were some instances where I didn’t provide a solution, I hope that you understand that I will continue in this agency the welfare of many.)
Before reading his resignation letter, Tolentino enumerated his accomplishments in the agency after five years in office, and expressed gratitude to Aquino for giving him the opportunity to serve Filipinos.
“Ang pangako ko po noon, hindi lang makita kayo, makasama kayo, kung hindi maglingkod nang tapat sa MMDA. Sa palagay ko po, nagawa po natin ‘yun,” he said. “Lahat po ng ito ay nagpapatunay na binigyan ko naman ng pag-aalaga ang ating mga kawani.”
(My promise from the past, not only to see and to be with you, but also to serve well in the MMDA. I think that we were able to do that. All of these prove that I took care of the employees.)
Tolentino is currently under fire for supposedly bringing in female sexy dancers as a “surprise gift” during the birthday celebration of LP solon and Laguna Rep. Benjamin Agarao last week, which coincided with the oath-taking of new party members in the province.
Tolentino on Wednesday apologized for not stopping the Playgirls’ lewd performance and asked the LP to drop him from its Senate slate, which both President Benigno Aquino III and administration bet Manuel “Roxas” II accepted.
“I am asking forgiveness from everyone who got offended by the incident especially to the family of Cong. Agarao and our friends from Laguna. I also apologize to my mother, who also got hurt, to the Liberal Party and Sec. Mar Roxas, whose name was dragged into what happened,” Tolentino said.
The LP was supposed to announce its full senatorial lineup on Monday after the incident was exposed last week, but LP President and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the postponement was to highlight the announcement of Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo as the party’s vice presidential bet.
Tolentino is also facing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman filed by various labor groups for supposed misconduct over the Playgirls incident. Lawyer Lorna Kapunan said the MMDA chair should be liable for violation of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Tolentino has denied allegations that he hired the Playgirls as a surprise birthday gift to Agarao, but admitted that he had asked them to wear skirts. With reports from Maricar Brizuela, Philippine Daily Inquirer/JE
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