MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres on Monday announced that she will be retiring this month after 33 years in government service.
In an interview with dzMM, Torres belied a Manila Times report that she was fired by President Benigno Aquino III during a meeting in Malacañang.
The LTO chief said Aquino did not order her to submit a resignation letter and cite "various threats to her life" as her reason for her leaving.
She said she personally told Aquino her plan to retire from service in a meeting in Malacañang last September 30.
"Maayos kaming nag-usap ng ating pangulo at ako po ang kusang nag-paalam na mag-reretiro sa buwan na ito. Para magkaroon ng katahimikan na sa LTO, sa mga issues, I chose to retire. Hindi naman po totoo ang mga death threats or anything, 'di po yon totoo… Pinayagan naman ako ng maayos ng ating pangulo," she said.
The meeting came after Torres was placed under investigation after a video surfaced showing her playing with a slot machine inside a casino. Memorandum circular 8 issued by the Palace in 2001 bars government officials, rank-and-file employees, soldiers, and police from even just entering casinos.
'Casino video a setup'
In a separate interview with ANC, Torres did not confirm whether the casino controversy pushed her to retire. She claimed that it was really her plan to retire at the age of 60.
She believes the casino video was a setup. However, she said she does not know anyone who could be behind it.
"Alam ko naman po ito ay setup. Hindi ko po alam [kung sino ang nasa likod ng video]. Lahat po sila pinatawad ko na. I have forgiven them all for all of this. After all I am retitring at kakalimutan ko na ang lahat ng ito," she said.
Torres said she will accept the result of the investigation, but clarified that she had no intention of gambling inside the casino.
"Kung ano man ang penalty for this, any conclusion or any decision, I would entertain… I think the motive is what is important. I don't have the intention to gamble out there, at sabi nga po sa akin eh tignan lang, ikot-ikot lang. Perhaps it was an omission and kung ano man ang penalty nito, I am gladly accepting it," she said.
Torres said she had also informed Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya of her plan to retire.
She hopes her replacement in the LTO "would continue the reforms I have made." She said she did not mention any possible replacements to Aquino.