Execs sued over deal on LRT janitors
THE OFFICE of the Ombudsman has pressed charges against officials of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), including its former administrator Melquiades Robles, for allowing a contractor to reduce the number of janitors at train stations way beyond what was agreed upon.
The Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Robles and 12 others in the Sandiganbayan for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, citing alleged irregularities in the implementation of maintenance and janitorial contracts in 2009.
Facing indictment before the antigraft court are Robles and former LRTA officials Federico Canar Jr., Dennis Francisco, Evelyn Macalino, Marilou Liscano, Elmo Stephen Triste, Eduardo Abiva, Nicholas Ombao, Roger Vaño, Maynard Tolosa and Juliet Labisto.
Also included in the charge sheet are service providers Lilia Diaz and Dennis Acorda of the joint venture of COMM Builders and Technology Philippines Corp., PMP Inc. and Gradski Saobracaj GRAS.
In a resolution released on Tuesday, the Ombudsman also found Canar, Francisco, Triste, Macalino, Liscano, Abiva, Ombao, Vaño, Tolosa and Labisto guilty of misconduct, and ordered them suspended for six months.
In the case of respondents who are no longer working at LRTA, the suspension is convertible to a fine equivalent to their salary for six months.
Robles is a former spokesperson of the religious group El Shaddai and currently president of the Buhay party-list group.
In January 2009, the LRTA entered into a contract with the joint venture for the preventive and corrective maintenance of the trains, rails and depot facilities of LRT Line 1.
Under the contract, the contractor was supposed to deploy at least 793 workers and janitors to the areas of the LRT line stations and rolling stocks.
But the Field Investigation Office found that only 209 personnel were deployed by the contractor to the stations and depots. “The disbursement vouchers of the series of monthly transactions had been processed without payrolls,” it added.
Documents showed that the joint venture was paid “the combined costs of human capital and consumed material totaling P400.6 million.”
The maintenance and janitorial contracts were extended to July 2013.
In the resolution, the Ombudsman said “the joint venture is not justified to deviate from its minimum commitment” and “it is rather unfortunate that some public respondents aided the contractor in its desire to reduce its committed number of janitorial workforce.”
It added that Robles and the other respondents “cannot sweepingly claim that they had regularly performed their duties because had they done so, they would not have given in to the demands of a private contractor.”
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales noted that “instead of pushing for the implementation of the awarded contract, the respondents agreed to the reduction of janitorial manpower.”
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