• LTO’s Torres retired, was not fired: Palace

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    Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chairman Virginia Torres was not fired, she retired.

    This was how spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya explained on Monday why Torres stepped down.

    Lacierda and Abaya were reacting to a front-page story in The Manila Times written by Dante A. Ang, the papers emeritus chairman on the reported firing of the LTO chief.

    Ang wrote that Torres was asked by the President Benigno Aquino 3rd to file her resignation during a meeting in Malacañang.
    Ang said Aquino told Torres to resign and cite as reasons “various threats to her life.”
    That is not the way it happened, according to Lacierda and Abaya.

    Abaya said Torres told President Aquino of her decision to retire after 33 years of government service.
    “I have spoken to Asec (Assistant Secretary) Virgie Torres. She met with the President and I also had the chance to meet with her after,” Abaya said.
    “She has volunteered to file for retirement since she is already eligible to retire,” he said.
    The LTO is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), which Abaya heads.
    Lacierda said the President allowed Torres to leave the LTO at the end of October, and her replacement had not been discussed.

    Torres became the center of controversy last August, when two videos showing her playing a slot machine at a casino circulated online. State officials are barred from gambling establishments.

    A clamor for Torres’ resignation rose, and the DOTC is investigating the incident.
    In a radio interview, Torres announced her retirement to put an end to issues plaguing the agency.
    Abaya denied that speculations swirling around her was the reason for her retirement.
    “It her own personal decision to file for retirement. Of course it is but proper that you don’t inquire into her reasons for filing for retirement when she is eligible to do so,” Abaya told The Times.
    Ang said it was Torres who brought the suit to uncover the real stockholders of Stradcom, LTO’s information technology services provider.
    Asked what will happen to the interpleader case and the P3 billion in payment to Stradcom that has been held in escrow, Abaya said, “Not quite sure yet of the legal implications of her retirement on the other issues you raised.”
    Lacierda said lauded Torres for her achievements at LTO. “She has been part of our administration since Day 1. She has been doing her job as head, we commend her for that,” he said.

    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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