LTO chief denies she's PNoy's shooting buddy

by Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2011 10:54 PM | Updated as of Jun 14 2011 06:54 AM

Won't resign over Stradcom conflict

MANILA, Philippines - I am not one of the President’s shooting buddies.

This was the clarification of Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News.

While admitting she is friends with the President, Torres denied Aquino is protecting her.

“Nakakahiya sa Pangulo… naglalaro talaga ako… [but] it doesn’t mean na shooting buddy ako talaga,” said Torres.

Torres had been silent over the past few months. She has been on leave from the LTO in connection with administrative cases filed against her for her supposed involvement in the illegal takeover of LTO IT provider Stradcom.

Stradcom had accused Torres of ordering a stop to the payment of over a P1 billion in fees the LTO allegedly owes Stradcom for its computerization project.

Torres, however, said she is waiting for the courts to decide which of the 2 factions really owns Stradcom before releasing payment.

“’Pag nagkamali ako ng binayaran, saan ako kukuha ng pamalit ko don? It will be my personal liability,” she said.

Torres is also upset at the Department of Justice for recommending her suspension because of the Stradcom issue.

“Pikon ako... They should have known better,” she said.

The DOJ denies it did anything wrong.

“We gave the recommendation to DOTC, sila ang nag-announce,” said DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima.

Transport groups have also been calling for Torres' resignation, but she said only President Aquino can order her to leave.

“I cannot resign. Parang ipinatalo ko naman ang gobyerno,” she said.

Torres also denied having anything to do with the resignation of former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Ping de Jesus.

With her impending return to office, Torres believes she has the support of incoming DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas.