MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) - Transport Secretary Jose "Ping" de Jesus has tendered his resignation due to personal reasons.
Undersecretary Dante Velasco was the first to confirm the news to ABS-CBN News Channel. He said he was able to confirm the matter with the secretary Wednesday morning.
Velasco said de Jesus did not cite in his letter the reasons for his resignation, which is going to be effective on June 30 or a year after he accepted the post. He simply thanked the President for the opportunity to serve the administration.
Velasco denied rumors that the secretary resigned due to issues like that concerning Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres, who got involved in an alleged conspiracy. Velasco believes the issue regarding Torres is too small a matter to de Jesus, and that the secretary simply wants to go back to private work.
De Jesus was not at Villamor Air Base for the departure honors for President Aquino on Wednesday. A source confirmed that de Jesus has indeed resigned due to personal reasons and has talked to the President about it.
Meanwhile, President Aquino thanked de Jesus for his service after receiving the transport chief's resignation.
“He commended de Jesus…he eased many of our concerns in the transportation and infrastructure sector and our nation is fortunate to have the benefit of his service just like he did during the Cory administration," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters in Brunei.
Coloma said de Jesus's exit had nothing to do with an ongoing feud between LTO and IT provider Stradcom. “Walang ganoong usapan…it was a very cordial meeting," he said.
He said de Jesus will stay as transport chief until June 30, a full year after being appointed to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
De Jesus is the former Public Works and Highways Secretary during the presidency of Aquino's mother, President Cory Aquino. He is also a board member of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation.
Ochoa not privy to Ping-PNoy talk
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. earlier denied the news of the transport chief's resignation. "Actually he already denied it, ‘di ba? Just this morning," Ochoa said in an interview early Wednesday.
Asked if the President has talked to de Jesus, Ochoa said: "I was not privy to that—‘yung silang dalawa ni PNoy. We never got the chance to talk about what did they talk about."
Ochoa said only the President knows which Cabinet official would possibly be reassigned to another position if concerns about his agency are not resolved, as mentioned by the President last week.
"As far as I’m concerned, he has not discussed it with me or I’m not in a position to tell you what he really meant," Ochoa said.
A Philippine Star report earlier said President Aquino met with de Jesus on Monday to discuss some “important” matters. The meeting came in the wake of persistent reports that De Jesus had offered to resign.
Palace officials said only Aquino knew the details of the meeting, but the possibility that de Jesus had resigned was “not farfetched.”
Other sources said Aquino discussed with de Jesus complaints and issues concerning the Department of Transportation and Communications, such as the airports and other projects.
The sources said Aquino found de Jesus quite slow in acting on his directives and other important issues. With reports from Zen Hernandez and Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News; and Philippine Star