Ex-LRTA chief wants graft case dropped for lack of probable cause
Former Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) administrator Melquiades Robles has sought the dismissal of his graft case over the anomalous maintenance and janitorial contract which allegedly caused P12.8 million injury to government.
Robles was supposed to be arraigned on Wednesday for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. But this was deferred because the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has yet to rule on his motion for judicial determination of probable cause.
READ: Ex-LRTA chief Robles posts bail for graft
In his motion, Robles said there was no probable cause in the graft case filed against him for the alleged disadvantageous joint venture contract with COMM Builders and Technology Philippines Corp,, PMP Inc., and Gradski Soabracaj GRAS.
LRTA entered into the P400 million contract in 2009 for the corrective maintenance of the trains, rails, and depot facilities of LRT Line 1.
Under the contract, the joint venture was mandated to deploy at least 793 workers and janitors to the areas of the LRT line stations and rolling stocks.
Also charged in the case were members of the LRTA Technical Working Group and Special Bids and Awards Committee.
Prosecutors accused them of acting with “evident bad faith, manifest partiality, and gross inexcusable negligence” in letting the LRTA pay P3.373 million per month in 2009 for the deployment of 219 janitors – even though the terms of contract require a minimum number of 321 janitors.
READ: Former LRT execs face graft raps over janitorial service deal
This effectively modified the terms of the contract, causing undue injury to government in the amount of P1.072 million per month for a total of P12.864 million in 2009 alone.
But Robles, through his lawyers, said there was no basis in fact and in law that the contract was disadvantageous to government.
He said that the prosecutors’ claim that the underdelivery of manpower was corroborated by a database record of the human resources department could not be ascertained because this database was not attached in the Field Investigation Office (FIO) complaint against Robles.
READ: Ex-LRTA chief: Cutting janitors legal
“The fact that the alleged database record was neither attached nor subsequently submitted by the FIO before the Ombudsman reveal a glaring truth: that there is no database to speak of,” his motion read.
This meant that the allegation that only 219 janitors applied for gate passes “is, in reality, anchored on nothing but thin air.”
Robles also insisted that the underdelivery of janitors who applied for gate passes in 2011 happened outside his term as LRTA administrator, which ended in 2010.
“Robles was no longer a part of LRTA when the supposed anomaly happened,” his motion read.
Robles said the allegation of underdelivery of personnel “is clearly unsubstantiated.; at best, such argument is a mere biased assumption.”
In the joint resolution indicting the LRTA officials, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said the joint venture “is not justified to deviate from its minimum commitment” under the contract.
Morales said she found it “unfortunate” that the LRTA officials “aided the contractor in its desire to reduce its committed number of janitorial workforce.”
“(They.) 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… Instead of pushing for the implementation of the awarded contract, the respondents agreed to the reduction of janitorial manpower,” Morales added. /atm
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