PNoy fires LTO chief Torres

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Land Transportation Chief Virginia Torres was finally shown the door, a reliable source told The Manila Times over the weekend. She was asked on Monday by PNoy to file her letter of resignation.

Torres, who is currently being investigated by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) for violation of a circular prohibiting government officials and employees from playing in the casino, was called on Monday afternoon to Malacañang for a meeting with President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

Before her meeting with the President, Torres, according to our source, already suspected why PNoy would want to see her. Someone from the Palace must have tipped her that she would be asked to resign. Before the President could say anything, she tried to explain her side on various issues besetting her. The idea was to convince the President that she deserved another chance at the LTO.

The President was reportedly unmoved. At the end of Torres’ narrative, PNoy said that she should submit her resignation citing as reasons “various threats to her life.”


A presidential relative tried to intercede for Torres. He talked to the President to reconsider his decision, but PNoy wouldn’t change his mind, the Times learned. Torres had to go.

As of this writing, Torres has yet to submit her letter of resignation to the Palace.

Several factors have conspired that made the President fire the LTO head. Chief among them was the casino incident. She must have thought she was out of the woods when Pagcor came to her defense saying that the place where Torres played the slot machine could hardly be classified as a casino. She thought, wrongly, that the people, more particularly those around the President, would take the Pagcor definition of what constitutes a casino hook, line and sinker. She was wrong. It only made her look ridiculous.

Also, her denial that she played the slot machines was one for the books. She said that she was lured to the machines by the lights and that she only tried it briefly while waiting for her restaurant bill to come. Never mind if she was photographed actually playing with both feet comfortably resting on the slot machines. She left immediately after settling her dues. She was lying of course, many people thought.

But the final blow did not come from her detractors in the Palace, or the DILG or DOTC, both departments known to be Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas’ “kingdom.” It was from her old backer, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), no less. What must have sealed her fate was the report that she was expelled by the religious organization for engaging in gambling, an absolute no-no for INC members.

After her expulsion, she had lost her last remaining defender following President Aquino’s crumbling support for his friend. PNoy and Torres go back a long way. He, as Tarlac’s First District Representative and she, as LTO director for the same province. They would go on a target shooting practice together.

Torres was among the first appointees of PNoy when he assumed the Presidency in June 2010. PNoy genuinely liked Torres. No amount of intrigues or black propaganda campaign would diminish his support for the LTO chief. Even at the height of the Stradcom controversy when she was seen on TV entering the LTO IT-provider offices, the President stood by his friend. (For the record, I supported Torres then and I still do particularly on the P4-billion LTO payable to Stradcom which is currently held in escrow. I also support the Sumbila group in its legal battle with the Quiambao faction.)

It was no secret that when Roxas took the helm of the DOTC after the resignation of Secretary Ping de Jesus, the President gave Roxas a free hand to pick his people. With the exception of Torres, PNoy reportedly asked the new DOTC Secretary to consider retaining her as LTO chief. From the beginning, Roxas was uncomfortable working with Torres.

Roxas brought along with him lawyers from the Carpio, Villaraza, Cruz law firm to DOTC. They, as well as others not from CVC, were reportedly recommendees of Atty. Nonong Cruz, a senior partner at CVC. Some of these CVC lawyers were with Cruz when he was Presidential Legal Counsel and DND Secretary during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency. Save for one lawyer, who was brought by Roxas himself to DILG as an undersecretary, the individuals originally recommended by Cruz were reportedly all placed in strategic and sensitive DOTC offices.

Roxas sees Torres as a spoiler. Rightly so. The LTO chief had direct access to the President. And so, Roxas kept his peace. He wouldn’t risk earning the ire of the President so he played along and bided his time. Unknown to Roxas, Torres sincerely tried to work as harmoniously, peacefully and productively with Roxas and his successor, Sec. Joseph Abaya at the DOTC. She wouldn’t want to be seen as the “odd man out.” She wouldn’t “rock the boat” that could breach her relationship with Roxas and Abaya, according to the Times’ source.

Even at the height of the P1-billion highly questionable bank withdrawal from an escrowed account by Stradcom, Torres kept her mouth shut and refused to do anything that would go against the position taken by the Secretary. She did not intervene in the recommendation of Abaya that the P1-billion of the P4-billion be unlocked and withdrawn in favor of Stradcom’s Quiambao faction allegedly to pay various trade obligations, including some P300 million it owes the BIR despite the fact that it was Torres who brought the interpleader suit before the QC Regional Trial Court which resulted in the freezing of the funds.

The moment the P1 billion was withdrawn from Land Bank, Quiambao turned around and defied Abaya and the President’s instructions to pay Stradcom’s trade obligations. The BIR and others were left holding the proverbial empty bag. The BIR has written Stradcom to release the money but Quiambao is defiant. The wonder of it all is why Abaya gave this favor to Stradcom and Quiambao. And, even after the President and his people questioned and condemned his action, why has Abaya been absolutely silent about it. What gives?

With Torres finally out of the LTO, the last remaining cobweb for Stradcom/Quiambao at the DOTC has been cleared. Will the interpleader case filed by Torres before the QC Trial Court be dismissed or withdrawn? Recall that it was Torres who brought the suit to determine who the real stockholders of Stradcom are. What happens next to the P3 billion held in escrow? Will it be unfrozen and released in favor of the Quiambao group? Abangan.

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21 Comments

  1. DOTC Abaya is the one who handled the bidding of the license plates, not LTO Torres. He should be the one blamed for the supply shortage. As for Torres being videotaped playing slot machines, that’s a minor offense compared to what other higher ranking govt officials appointed by Pnoy have been doing, talk about plunder.

  2. Mga kababayan, nagulat ako sa nabasa ko na 7 months mag wait para makuha ang plate number? totoo po ba yan? ganun kabagal ang process???

    Dito kc sa Canada, believe it or not, ng bumili ako ng car 4 hrs. lng nakuha ko na ang car with insurance at ang plate number believe it or not.. less than 10 minutes..uulitin ko po less than 10 minutes nakuha ko na ang plate number.

    Sana po ay tuluyan na ang pagbabago ating inang bayan..maraming salamat po..

    God bless you all …mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

  3. Tama lang na matanggal ang mga LASON ng gobyerno lalo na sa LTO. Last week pa ng August 2013 ko na-register ang aking car pero up until now wala pa yung sticker.Sa ganitong sistema ng gobyerno natin, di ko alam kung bakit nasasabi PNoy na “napakasarap maging Pilipino” sa panahong ito…

    • Maghintay ka ng mga 7 months, number 3 plate number ko. September dumating. Mga February pinasok un.

  4. mr president, paki sibak na rin si valte, lacierda, carandang, roxas abad huwag ka mabbgla sla ang mga anay na sumusira sa iyo

  5. You failed to cite the real reason behind her resignation. None of the above.

    The real reason which is glaringly obvious is a sinister one. Stradcom’s Quiambao Group have finally come to a friendly agreement with Mar Roxas Group. Ergo, Torres the main obstacle to this party-party had to be shown the door.

    It’s all about the money folks and 2016.

    • True. Politics prevailed over Torres’ closeness with Pnoy. And if it’s true that Torres was already expelled by her church, then Pnoy had nothing to fear because she’s no longer a member.

      I’m more curious to know who the presidential relative who tried to convince Pnoy to keep Torres. The writer did not mention him or her but most likely it could be one of her sisters, Balsy or Kris. I know that it was one of the sisters who asked INC to endorse Pnoy last presidential election. When the late Cory was alive, she also swallowed her pride and even accompanied Pnoy to INC to ask for the church’s endorsement when he first ran for senator.

  6. Many wanted Torres’ neck because LTO is the gold mine for most corrupt candidates to the position of LTO Chief. From day one, Torres was being ousted by the syndicate but failed. If her playing slot machine triggered her dismissal, then that’s BS. How many government officials openly and discreetly gamble in casinos with some who are even high rollers. Slot machine is more of a past time hobby especially for seniors. You see a lot of seniors playing slot in other countries.

    It’s not true that INC expelled Torres for gambling. That’s too drastic a decision if true. Former NBI Chief Gatdula, also a member of INC, was involved and charged in kidnap for ransom; yet, INC did not expel him and even provided lawyers to defend him.

    • ikaw naman bakit dimo ba alam kapag malaki ang abuloy di yan tinatanggal at tinitiwalag not unless wala kang kaalaman sa kalakaran…

    • Ang alam ko di nadadaan ng abuloy ang INC. Noon nga sa kasikatan ni Rico Puno na isang dating kaanib, lumabas sa San Miguel commercial at ipinagbawal ng INC dahil sa kasikatan niya noon ay isang masamang halimbawa sa kabataan ang uminom ng alak. Hindi nakinig at gusto pang mag-abuloy ng malaking halaga sa INC. Pero itiniwalag pa rin.

      Ang INC kasi karamihan ay mga mahihirap pero may pagkakaisa pag dating sa abuloy dahil aral ito ng Diyos. Kung piso lang ang abuloy ng bawa’t kaanib, magkano ang isang milyong kaanib? Ikumpara mo sa Simbahang Katolika na hindi lahat nag-aabuloy. Ang malaki mag-abuloy ang mga mayayaman na mayayabang at pulitiko. Kung minsan pa binabanggit ang mga pangalan sa Misa. Eh kung lumipat ng Parokya ang mga VIP na iyan o kaya ay umalis na, bagsak ang kapilya.

  7. there are still a number of people in pnoy’s admin that must go….at least torres is out and please replace her with someone who can totally cleanse and rid the LTO with the crocodiles in uniform…..they had practically made LTO as their milking cow and they are not depending on their wages for a living…but instead of their racket in and out of LTO offices….too garapal these people doing these money-making activities especially the LTO-connected law enforcement staff…..

  8. Maliit na sacrifice. FIRE Abad para maniwala ang pinoy na U mean business. Otherwise pampakalma lang nila iyan sa mga taong unti unti ng nagigising sa babulastugan ng government ni Pnoy. Pinoy tuloy tuloy ang rally 2 pressure this govt.

  9. One thing Torres failed to do at LTO was to come up with better, that is, efficient, way of servicing the needs of vehicle owners and licenses of drivers, among others. Where in this planet will you find except here where car plates are written on cardboards, aside from much delayed issuance of those tags? Then, her stature as a gov’t agency head got smeared with that casino episode. Nakakahiya.

  10. Everyone knows that the LTO is one of the top agencies where corruption is a way of life, bribery and lagay is so prevalent that people are wondering why this agency has not been investigated thoroughly, in other words, mga magnanakaw ang nagpapatakbo ng ahensiyang Ito!!!

  11. mayette, you are almost correct in what you say. But its in everything in this country that corruption exists, for instance, when applying for a job look what you have to do. I wont go through it as there is a lot but i will explain very simply how it works in the uk. You find the company offering the job & you can either go there or usually phone them & they will then either give you or send you the application form. You fill it in & send it back. You might be invited for an interview or you might not, & you can be given the job sometimes even without an interview, & notice it didnt cost a single centavo. If you want to start a small business you dont have to pay a mayor or anyone every year for a work permit. Its all corruption & designed to be in control of you. They do nothing in this country to help the small man trying to support a family. Why are ex prisoners not allowed to work, all that means is they will have to steal to feed themselves & their family. But we need people like you to stand up & demand changes for the working poor of this country.

  12. i dont understand a lot of this stuff, but it seems no one is trust worthy in this country. If you get caught as torres did playing slot machines you know that is against the rules, so just accept it. But it seems no matter how small or how big the situation very very few people in this country accept its their responsibility. It always makes me laugh when i see the weather forcasters speaking & they say, ” its now entering the philippine area of responsibility “. They love to use that word but in this country nothing is ever anyones responsibility. No one is ever in the wrong, i see no end to this countries problems. Its a very big start if they do get rid of juan ponce enrile as i have no doubt he is one of the most corrupt politicians this country has ever seen but he is very clever & crafty in covering his tracks but the truth is nearly out in the open.

  13. Torres had to go, Abad had to go, de Lima had to go, lahat ng appointee na pabalikbalik na sa Commission on Appointment na hindi maconfirmed had to go, ganoon sana. Temporary ipuwesto ni Pnoy lahat na matatandang buhay pa na tao ng kanyang Ama at Ina tulad halimbawa sila Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag at iba pa,pakiusapan sana ni Pnoy ang mga ito na tulungan siyang ituwid ang bumabaluktot na daang tinatahak ng kanyang pamamalakad sa pamahalaan.

  14. LTO too much red tape, just to apply for a driving license, vehicles registrations, you have to bribe someone to be registered yearly for transportation and for driving license every three years, too old fashioned. Use new modern technique, computerisations, data systems needed. automatic yearly for registrations LTO send you letters of renewal and you can pay at designated pay-point. Follow the UK style of processing of transporatation and licensing, much quicker and the government can get revenues and will stop this corruptions at the LTO Offices nationwide.

  15. PNoy is starting to feel the bite of the ongoing peoples rally against not only the PDAF,and the DAP but also his poor leadership that he needs to earn pogi points with the termination of Virginia Torres. Torres of course is guilty as folks already know that is why it will be a burden for PNOy ot hold on to her. Of course this is a good decision {at last} from PNoy. Many should be treated in the same way in his administration.