Abaya should be indicted for plunder over MRT mess, 2 solons say
The Ombudsman should have indicted former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and 16 others of plunder instead of just graft, in connection to the anomalous P4.2 billion Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) maintenance contract, lawmakers asserted on Monday.
While he welcomed the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause for graft against the former Department of Transportation (DOTr) officials involved in the anomalous maintenance contract, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Rep. Jericho Nograles said the Ombudsman “fell short” in its decision and should have recommended plunder charges against them.
“The Ombudsman was correct in its decision to indict the people behind the anomalous contract but fell short in its decision to file graft and corruption charges against them instead of the heinous crime of plunder, an unbailable offense,” Nograles said in a statement.
Nonetheless, he said the decision was a “strong and undeniable sign that no one can be above the law regardless of one’s political power and influence.”
Bayan Muna Chairman and former Rep. Neri Colmenares echoed Nograles’ sentiments.
“All GPPB officials should also be charged with graft or better yet plunder over the problem of dismal performance of the MRT because they are part of those accountable as part of the procurement policy board,” he said in a statement.
Senator Grace Poe meanwhile said the decision was consistent with the conclusion of the committee report submitted by the Senate subcommittees on public services, which observed the badges of negligence and inactions of the DOTR officials led by Abaya.
She said these negligence indicated “insensitivity, callous indifference, and acts disadvantageous to the commuters, to the Filipino public and to the government with regard to the malfunction problem of the MRT.”
“These cases are a reminder to everyone that graft is a serious offense. While we lament that the same is bailable, let this be a lesson to everyone in government that public officers are accountable for each and every contract that they enter into on behalf of the Filipino people,” Poe added.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found probable cause to charge the respondents for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act 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. /je
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