File criminal raps vs LTO chief, Aquino dared

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President Benigno Aquino 3rd should order the immediate filing of a criminal complaint against former Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres for brokering the release of P100-million worth of smuggled goods at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

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In challenging the President on Tuesday, the left-leaning Anakpawis party-list said Aquino “should not think twice on pursuing a case against Torres.”

The former LTO chief, according to the group’s Rep. Fernando Hicap, “clearly violated the law by bargaining the release of the 64 containers loaded with smuggled sugar seized by the [BOC].”

“Smuggling is not only slowly killing our local production, it is also a source of big-time revenue losses. According to the Department of Agriculture, sugar smuggling accounts for an annual $18.6 million uncollected taxes on sugar imports,” Hicap said.

The group claimed that Torres was also involved in massive sugar bloc farming activity in Hacienda Luisita, offering measly financial assistance to farm worker-beneficiaries.

Hacienda Luisita is owned by the president’s family.

Hicap warned Malacañang not to protect Torres.

A known ally of the President, the former LTO chief was forced to resign from her post over a video circulated in social media showing her playing in a casino.

At the same time, Senator Francis Escudero urged the BOC to file charges against Torres if evidence warrants.

Escudero said that by pursuing the case, the BOC will show that the administration is serious in its campaign against illegal smuggling.

“If she (Torres) took part in the supposed attempt to smuggle imported sugar into the country then she should be charged,” Escudero said in an interview with reporters after attending the Pandesalan news forum at Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the BOC should dig deeper into the issue to find the truth.

Drilon vehemently denied claims that the attempt to smuggle sugar is part of the Liberal Party’ s (LP) fund raising.

“There is absolutely no basis, and they are just lying. They are trying to save their necks,” said Drilon, who is also the vice chairman of LP.

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