Ombudsman indicts Abaya, 16 others over P4.2-B MRT maintenance contract
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has indicted former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and 16 others over the anomalous P4.2 billion Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) maintenance contract.
Morales found probable cause to charge the respondents for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, her office said in a statement on Monday.
The Ombudsman’s special panel of investigators found that the respondents “extended unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference” to Busan Universal Rail Inc. of Busan Joint Venture (Busan JV) despite being “ineligible” and “unqualified.”
It stressed that “Busan JV was not technically, legally and financially capable to undertake the MRT3 long-term maintenance contract.”
“Despite its being unqualified, the contract was still awarded to it by the DOTr, in violation of Section 53 of the RIRR of R.A. No. 9184, which requires that in negotiated procurement, the procuring entity should negotiate with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier, contractor or consultant,” the Ombudsman panel said. “By allowing the award of the contract to the Busan JV despite the attendant glaring irregularities, Abaya deliberately ignored applicable laws, rules and regulations, and standard operating procedures, falling short of or disregarding the required competence expected of him in the performance of his official functions,” it added.
The former Transportation officials who were indicted were identified as Undersecretaries Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco, and Catherine Jennifer Francis Gonzales.
Meanwhile, former MRT-3 officials set to be charged were General Manager Roman Buenafe, Assistant Secretary for Procurement Camille Alcaraz, Bids and Awards Committee Vice Chairperson Ofelia Astrera, Attorney V Charissa Eloisa Julia Opulencia, Engineering Division chief Oscar Bongon and Engineer III Jose Rodante Sabayle.
Private respondents Eldonn Ferdinand Uy of Edison Development and Construction, Elizabeth Velasco of Tramat Mercantile Incorporated, Belinda Tan of TMI Corporation, Inc., Brian Velasco of Castan Corporation, and Antonio Borromeo, Jun Ho Hwang and Elpidio Uy from BURI were also indicted.
Last October, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) terminated BURI for failing to “ensure the availability of contractually obligated number of trains, and more importantly, to put in operation reliable and efficient trains.”
The DOTr blamed the persistent woes at the MRT-3 on the “poor performance” of BURI in maintaining the congested transit line. /vvp
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