Lonely and perilous path

SHORTLY after being appointed as the new head of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) on July last year, Assistant Secretary Virginia P. Torres immediately set her sights on initiating reforms at one of the most corrupt and graft-ridden agencies of the government.

But her plans of following the lead of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of walking the straight path “tuwid na daan” did not sit well with some groups and individuals operating at the LTO who would be affected by her planned reforms.

It is not surprising therefore that barely a few days after she assumed her post that the attacks against her person that were designed to undermine her integrity had started to come up.

First the attacks were few and far between as if those behind them are testing the waters and were studying her reactions.

But Torres was not easily affected by the malicious allegations and instead used them as her motivations to work even harder and prove to all that she is worthy of the tasks given to her.

Her actions further incensed her detractors who then immediately shifted to full-blown offensive and by now had no qualms in discrediting and questioning her every move. They even made it appear that some of her decisions were influenced by her religious affiliations.

In short, her enemies have now resorted to a well-calculated, orchestrated, sustained and well-funded media campaign to malign her person before the eyes of the public.

It is a good thing that there were groups, individuals, employees and industry players who  never wavered in their belief on her integrity despite the continued onslaught by her enemies to demonize her before the bar of public opinion.

Her name was being linked in various issues despite the fact that she was merely doing her job to protect the interests of the public and the agency that she heads.

First, they dragged her name in the driver’s license contract controversy.

It came after she supported an earlier recommendation of the LTO’s technical working group to replace the current plastic-based driver’s license with a paper-based license because of the latter’s inherent advantages.

Shortly thereafter, various groups and individuals who have interests in cornering the lucrative supply and contract of the driver’s license suddenly came out and threw all kinds of malicious accusations against her.

The complainants made sure that they would not stop until they convinced Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus to meddle in the issue and eventually took over, despite the fact that Torres had already complied and followed all the legal requirements of the proposed project.

Hardly the issue had died down when she also came under intense attacks after making known her stand to return the fees collected out of the aborted Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) project.

Then lo and behold, her name was suddenly and surprisingly included among those who were implicated in the failed December 9, 2010 take-over of the Stradcom Corp. building by a faction of the IT firm.

The people who included her in the charge sheet did it despite knowing fully well that I had nothing to do with their intra-corporate conflict.

It is a good thing that the Quezon city Regional Trial Court appreciated the arguments that she presented and threw the complaint right away while upholding the right of the LTO leadership to temporarily take over the IT firm.

Not contended, the main protagonists even succeeded in bringing the issue before the Department of Justice (DoJ) where a fact-finding committee also invited and included her as among those to be investigated.

But while they are yet to come to a definitive conclusion of the matter, the issue of carjacking especially those involving the notorious Dominguez brothers came out.

Interestingly, the agency and its personnel were also dragged in the controversy until eventually, the dead issue of the stolen Pajero was resurrected.

Despite all the papers that she had presented to prove her innocence, her attackers are continuing to use the Pajero case to put her in a bad light.

But in as much as she is innocent, Torres is confident that in the end she will be vindicated and that truth would eventually prevail.

It is sad on the part of Torres who found out that threading the straight path could be both lonely and perilous.-Bobby Ricohermoso

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