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As I See It
LTO Chief Torres should go on leave

By Neal Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:55:00 03/07/2011

Filed Under: Government, Graft & Corruption, Civil & Public Services, Crime and Law and Justice, Media killings

P-NOY IS not acting like a President when he refused to suspend his shooting partner, Assistant Secretary Virginia Torres, chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), whose preventive suspension was recommended by his own justice secretary, Leila de Lima, after an exhaustive investigation into her alleged involvement in the attempted takeover of Stradcom, the technology provider of LTO. And Torres herself is putting P-Noy on the spot and subject to criticism, by staying put and proving her closeness to P-Noy.

She must remember that P-Noy was elected with a big plurality because he was perceived to be the knight in shining armor who would finally stop corruption in the government and give justice to every man. By holding on to her position, forcing P-Noy to choose between her and his duty, she is weakening the people?s trust in her friend and benefactor. If she were a true friend, she would spare him from further harm.

If she were a true friend, she would go on a voluntary leave of absence while her case is being heard. An innocent person would not want anything to taint her acquittal of the charge against her.

The recommendation for suspension, after all, is not a declaration of her guilt nor a punishment for her. It is part of the due process to prevent officials from exerting any influence on the witnesses and records on the case. In short, to make the administration of justice truly objective with no taint of partiality whatsoever.

As for P-Noy, he is not being presidential by being partial to his shooting partner. Loyalty to a friend is a virtue in ordinary persons but not in a President who is supposed to be loyal to every citizen and do justice to every man. Telling Torres to go on leave does not mean she is guilty, but that she is innocent and is not afraid of the charge against her and that she is willing to go through the process to prove her innocence.

Torres has said that she would go on leave if the President would tell her to do so. So go ahead and tell her instead of letting a cloud of doubt hang over her head.

Then there is Transportation Secretary Ping de Jesus, who is the immediate superior of Asec Torres. The DoJ recommendation is exactly that, a recommendation. It is up to Secretary De Jesus to implement the recommendation. After all, if Torres is truly innocent, there is nothing to fear. On the other hand, even if she is innocent but the process of clearing her is put in doubt, then the people will conclude that P-Noy is no better than his predecessor in bending justice to protect his friends.

* * *

Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn said he does not understand why some members of media are protecting the alleged masterminds in the assassination of one of their own, radio commentator Gerry Ortega. The two alleged killers, caught by the police shortly after the murder, implicated two former governors as the masterminds.

After interrogation by the National Bureau of Investigation, the statements of the two triggermen, those they implicated except the two former governors, Joel Reyes of Palawan and Bong Carreon of Marinduque, as well as documentary evidence such as airline tickets, and receipts of a pawnshop through which money was channeled to the triggermen, corroborated one another to form a seamless story that showed how the plot was hatched, financed and implemented.

Meanwhile, the NBI report said, Reyes went abroad at the time the crime was to be committed to provide him with an alibi.

In spite of the NBI findings and the statements of some of the suspects, Hagedorn said he was surprised when there were reports in the Manila press protecting Reyes and pointing to him, Hagedorn, as the alleged mastermind.

?The assassination victim is a member of the press, one of your own,? Hagedorn said, ?but here are some of your colleagues protecting the alleged masterminds. I don?t understand it.?

Perhaps we do.

* * *

When you buy a new lead-acid battery for your car or truck, the battery store will gladly give you a discount in exchange for your old battery. That is because the old batteries are recycled to make new ones. In fact, there is a world shortage of old batteries and many junkshops are exporting the old batteries instead of selling them to local battery manufacturers. So much so that the local battery manufacturing industry is being threatened with extinction because of the shortage of old batteries to be recycled.

Yes, the lowly junkshop in our neighborhood could be part of a network of an illegal industry engaged in the recycling and export of used lead-acid batteries. This trade, aside from the environmental and health hazards to which its workers are exposed, is now threatening the local battery manufacturing industry.

The Philippine Association of Battery Manufacturers (Pabmi) has asked Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo to intervene to stop the illegal trade and help protect the environment and save the industry.

?The lead-acid battery manufacturing industry is an P11.6-billion industry which contributes heavily to the Philippine economy and provides employment to more than 30,000 Filipinos nationwide,? Pabmi said.

?For the production of lead-acid batteries, the industry is extremely dependent on used lead acid batteries as raw material. However, there is a continuing decline in the availability of used lead acid batteries because of increasing demand in other countries.?

Local junkshops are exporting the used batteries because they get more money from them in the export market. The acute supply shortage of used lead-acid batteries in the country has resulted in the instability of the supply and the increase in prices.

Pabmi has therefore asked the DTI to ban the export of used lead-acid batteries.

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