Tugade backs out of 2022 senatorial race

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Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade announced on Saturday that he is not seeking public office in 2022.

Earlier, Tugade was being considered by the PDP-Laban to be part of its senatorial slate. Instead, the 75-year-old Tugade said he will to continue to oversee the implementation of projects under the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

“I decided not to file my certificate of candidacy for multiple reasons. One of which is by not filing my COC (certificate of candidacy), I can emphasize that the efforts of the Department of Transportation in finishing projects are not, in any way, in aid of election,” he said in a statement.

“It is just in doing and completing what we sincerely and honestly think is good for the country, the people, and the sambayanan (nation),” Tugade added.

Tugade’s decision came days after he was among those mentioned in the leaked Pandora Papers, a collection of financial documents of wealthy and powerful individuals around the world.

On Tuesday, he denied allegations of undeclared assets hidden in an offshore account, noting that all his investments are disclosed in his sworn statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth from 2012 to 2020.

He stated that his family’s investments in the Virgin Islands-based firm Solart Holdings, Ltd. were “legitimate attempts” to grow their financial portfolio.

Accomplishments

Among DOTr’s latest achievements is the new Bicol International Airport (BIA) that began commercial operations on Friday.

Once fully operational, the BIA can accommodate two million passengers annually.

Like the renovated Clark International Airport in Pampanga, it will have high-technology features, such as contactless baggage handling and a food ordering system.

Tugade said he has made it his personal commitment and crusade to finish the BIA despite criticisms and doubts after it broke ground on Dec. 8, 2016.

In July, President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged Tugade to consider joining the 2022 senatorial race as he praised his “talent and expertise” in running the DOTr.

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