Aquino critics welcome Torres’ exit

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GOOD riddance.

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This was how the critics of the Aquino administration welcomed the quitting of Land Transportation Office Chief Virginia Torres who retired from her post on Monday per Malacañang.

Party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Luz Ilagan of Gabriela expressed such sentiments a day after The Manila Times reported that Torres was asked by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to step down from her post amid the unearthing of controversial video showing Torres playing in a casino’s slot machine—an action prohibited by a Palace Memorandum No. 8 issued in 2001 which prohibits government officials, rank-and-file employees, soldiers, and police from entering casinos.

After the Times’ exclusive story on the apparent firing of Torres which came out on Monday, the Palace announced that Torres is retiring from government service by the end of October, with President Aquino Benigno Aquino 3rd saying that he has shown the better route for Torres.

“Retiring from government service is a wise decision on her part. Her appointment and longevity were deemed as based on being a shooting buddy of the President. Maybe the president will choose his appointees based on merits next time, rather than being a shooting buddy or a classmate,” Colmenares, who serves as the House Deputy Minority Leader, said in a text message.

Aside from the casino controversy, Torres is also facing a damage suit before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court filed against her by LTO’s information technology (IT) provider, Stradcom Corp., for her refusal to pay the P4 billion government dues to the IT firm.

Torres has remained adamant that the P4 billion worth of government payments due to Stradcom for its services rendered since 2010 cannot be released since Stradcom is embroiled in an intracorporate dispute between Cezar Quiambao and the group led by Bonifacio Sumbilla.

“Torres was given the opportunity for a graceful exit through retirement, but the important thing is that she is being held accountable for violating existing government rules and regulations. Public pressure has played an important role in ensuring that a high official, even one close to the President, is not above the law,” Tinio added.

Ilagan, for her part, underscored that the exit door should have been long showed to Torres.

“Torres’ retirement is one thorn plucked out of this administration’s side. The President should have fired her at the very start of the controversies. She brought shame,” Ilagan said in a separate text message.

“She [Torres] is one of the boulders hindering the path to good governance so it is good riddance,” Ilagan added. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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