• Embattled LTO head won’t be asked to go on leave

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    Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres won’t be asked to go on leave pending the investigation on her casino visit, which was caught on mobile camera, a Cabinet official said on Monday.

    Secretary Joseph Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) made the announcement during the hearing of P46 billion proposed budget for DOTC in 2014 before the House Committee on Appropriations.

    “Going on leave is a personal choice. We are not forcing anyone to go on leave. But we are definitely investigating her. It is progressing. This is something that we cannot sweep under the rug. This is going to be addressed. You have my word,” Abaya told reporters in a chance interview.

    “She didn’t file a leave. It is hard to be advising people. She is a bureaucrat so I leave it to her wisdom pending the sophisticated investigation,” Abaya added.

    DOTC Assistant Secretary Torres was present during the hearing, but she was only the Assistant Secretary who came in late.

    Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teaches asked Torres about her possible liability in connection with the casino controversy, to which Torres gamely answered.

    “I am willing to face any investigation. What happened [capturing me on video]was done with malice. I already submitted a letter to the DOTC to investigate me,” Torres argued.

    But Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list was not contented. He shamed Torres by saying that a lot of people were asking where was the LTO chief at the onset of the DOTC budget hearing.

    “They were saying maybe you are in the casino,” Ridon retorted.

    Torres answered back, saying that “obviously it wasn’t true because I am here [now].”

    In closing, Abaya underscored that the DOTC didn’t think twice in investigating Torres for being in a casino and such probe wasn’t buoyed by any order from the higher ups.

    “We don’t need to be told by anyone to investigate. It doesn’t require any letter from the powers that be or anybody for us to investigate. We know when we should investigate,” Abaya added.

    Llanesca T. Panti

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