MMDA, Energy heads deny being early birds

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GOVERNMENT officials, who are believed to be running in next year’s elections, on Thursday refused to step down as they defended their activities of meeting people across the country.

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Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said he finds no valid reason for him to vacate his post as he was just performing his job of visiting communities outside Metro Manila.

Tolentino came under fire for judging a local beauty contest in Daet, Camarines Norte, as Metro Manila was experiencing monstrous traffic jams because of heavy rains last week.

Because of this, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza called on Tolentino to quit his Cabinet post, stressing that he has been neglecting his duties as Metro Manila czar.

Atienza believes that Tolentino is now obsessed to gain better name recall among voters nationwide so he always goes to various provinces.
He said Tolentino regularly skips town to shake hands with politicians and voters in the provinces.

In defending himself, Tolentino said he went to Daet upon the invitation of the mayor, who is his friend, for a speaking engagement.

“I stayed there for few hours because I was invited as a guest speaker but my point is I did not neglect my obligations for Metro Manila,” he told a radio interview.

He also denied allegations of using public vehicles for his personal gains during the trip.

“The MMDA has been helping Daet in its traffic management plan so the MMDA vehicle, which was seen by many, has been used for coordination in Legazpi [City],” Tplentino said.

Another Cabinet member who has been urged to step down from his post is Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, who has been criticized for his infomercial on energy conservation.

Petilla pointed out that he had tendered his irrevocable resignation long time ago, effective April 30, but was not acted upon by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

He also denied allegations that he used the infomercial, viewed as political advertisement by his critics, to make himself popular with voters.

“Why should I advertise myself if I’m already resigned. I’m ready to go anytime,” Petilla said.

He added that his name is not even mentioned in the advertisement so it is not just that he be accused of early campaigning.

Other Cabinet officials whom the opposition urged to quit their posts include Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Technical Education Skills and Development Authority chief Joel Villanueva.

Roxas is the Liberal Party’s presumptive standard-bearer, while Tolentino, Petilla, de Lima and Villanueva are reportedly eyeing a Senate seat in the 2016 polls.

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