Abaya, others cleared of graft charges
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has junked the graft complaints filed against former transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and other transport officials over the P4-billion Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) maintenance and overhauling deal awarded to Busan Universal Rail Inc (Buri).
Abaya and former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) officials Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco, Catherine Jennifer Francis Gonzales, Roman Buenafe, Camille Alcaraz, Ofelia Astrera, Charissa Eloisa Julia Opulencia, Oscar Bongon, Jose Rodante Sabayle were cleared of the violation of Section 3 (e) of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act complaint filed against them.
All private respondents were also cleared.
The Ombudsman reversed its 2018 order on the indictment of Abaya and the DOTC officials, saying the South Korean company had already been subjected to penalties “for the problems that cropped up in the implementation of the project through deductions in their payments under the contract and, subsequently, pretermination of the contract.”
“The problems hounding the MRT3 railway operations appear to be in the implementation stage of the long-term maintenance contract, involving issues that were not present during the screening, negotiation and bidding process thereof,” the order read.
It added that the Ombudsman reconsidered its finding of probable cause against the respondents and dismissed the complaints that zeroed in on acts during the procurement process of the maintenance contract, a process that was aboveboard.
The antigraft agency in 2018 found probable cause to charge Abaya for awarding the contract, adding that Busan was “not technically, legally and financially capable to undertake the MRT3 long-term maintenance contract.” INQ
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