Group files plunder complaint vs outgoing DoTC chief
MANILA, Philippines — A road user’s group has included outgoing Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus in a plunder case it earlier filed against executives of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) over the collection of questionable fees.
In a statement on Sunday afternoon, Raymundo Junia, president of the Road Users Protection Advocates (RUPA), said De Jesus was included Friday in plunder charges earlier filed before the Ombudsman for the alleged illegal collection of almost P2.8 billion in “interconnectivity fees” by the Stradcom, DOTC’s sole IT contractor.
RUPA noted that even if De Jesus was already on his way out, he was among DoTC officials who allegedly “aided, abetted, connived or conspired with other DoTC and Stradcom officials” to allow the collection of questionable fees.
“On one hand, there are the usual encomiums for his past services to the nation. On the other, there are the usual assessments of what has gone wrong with a once exemplar of a public official with a good reputation,” RUPA said in a motion to the Ombudsman.
“De Jesus has not, unfortunately, been the consistent exemplar that he was reputed to be. RUPA has no doubt that the good reputation that De Jesus once had is now in tatters,” the group said.
Among others RUPA charged last month were DoTC Undersecretary Aristotle Batuhan and Assistant Secretary Racquel Desiderio and Stradcom Chair Cesar Quiambao.
Asked why De Jesus was included in the case just now, Junia said: “We were not sure how deep he was involved in the Stradcom corruption until he came too soon to absolve Batuhan and Desiderio… and describing the original charge as harassment.”
“We submitted our complaint to Ombudsman exactly to investigate our charges. His absolving the two, saying its harassment, pre-empts the Ombudsman and smells of his deep involvement in the corruption at DOTC,” Junia said.
On June 1, De Jesus announced his resignation and intent to return to the private sector. He brushed aside claims of a sour parting with President Benigno Aquino III, the second Aquino President in whose Cabinet he served.
Aquino has picked his failed vice-presidential running mate, former senator and trade secretary Mar Roxas, to take on the DoTC portfolio.
RUPA noted that the Stradcom controversy was among the issues “alluded to as one of the reasons” for his resignations.
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