Abaya, 6 DOTC, LTO execs sued for graft over P3.8B license plate deal
MANILA — Former transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and six other officials of the old Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) are facing graft charges for the scandal-tainted purchase of P3.8 billion worth of license plates during the Aquino administration.
Lawyer Al Vitangcol, former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) general manager, led the filing of the case by the Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) and Liga ng Explosibong Pagbabago against his former boss at the Department of Justice on Tuesday.
Vitangcol told reporters that the new complaint would add Abaya and DOTC and LTO officials as respondents to the group’s first complaint, which only named the Power Plates Development Concepts Inc. and the J. Knieriem BV-Power Plates (PPI-JKG Joint Venture) as respondents.
“We filed this complaint to add the government officials responsible for conspiring with the private suppliers who were indicted by the DOJ for using falsified documents to get the contract. There is a conspiracy because the car plate manufacturer and DOTC officials awarded the contract despite the submission of falsified documents and negative financial standing,” said Vitangcol.
Aside from Abaya, the other officials charged were Transportation Assistant Secretary Dante Lantin; Land Transportation Office (LTO) Alfonso Tan Jr.; former DOTC Bids and Awards Committee members Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, Rene Limcaoco, Julianito Bucayan Jr., and Catherine Jennifer Gonzales. They were accused of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees.
The DOJ issued an August 21 resolution ordering the indictment of officials of the Power Plates Development Concepts Inc. and J. Knieriem BV-Power Plates that won the P3.8 billion Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP) in 2013.
Vitangcol said that due to the connivance of Abaya and other government officials to tap an unqualified private supplier, the public suffered from massive delays in the issuance of license plates for cars and motorcycles.
Vitangcol said the bidder’s failure to pay for duties and taxes on the licensed plates (which led to a lengthy stay at the Bureau of Customs) showed that the joint venture of the private suppliers did not have the money to undertake the project. Had Abaya and government officials conducted due diligence on the private bidder, they would have rejected its offer outright for using fake financial statement to show it was capable of undertaking the contract.
In the complaint, Vitangcol said the conspiracy between the PPI-JKG Joint Venture on one hand, and the DOTC and LTO officials on the other, would not have succeeded without the knowledge, intervention, act or omission of the BAC.
Due to the anomalies, the Commission on Audit stopped the implementation of the project midway in 2015. The complainants wanted a full accounting of where the P2.1 billion to P2.8 billion, in license plate fees paid by motorists, went before it was cancelled.
Vitangcol was optimistic that the DOJ would endorse the complaint to the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan for prosecution.
The erstwhile DOTC regulating the transportation and telecommunications sectors has been dissolved and two new departments have been created — the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology. SFM
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