COA to probe irregularities in Aquino-era MRT-3 contracts
MANILA — The Commission on Audit is set to scrutinize the Aquino government’s various short-term maintenance contracts for the dilapidated Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).
The special audit will be held to “determine (the) veracity of various allegations of irregularities” hounding the contracts entered into by the Department of Transportation under former Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
In a letter sent to the Department of Transportation, the COA Special Services Sector Fraud Audit Office has said it will hold an entrance conference this Thursday to mark the start of the special audit.
The audit will cover the following MRT-3 maintenance contracts:
* The contract with PH Trams-CB&T Joint Venture as interim maintenance service provider for US$1.15 million a month in 2012;
* The P685.04-million contract with Global-APT Joint Venture as temporary maintenance provider for one year in 2013, and;
* The P23.35-million contract with Global Epcom Services, Inc. as short-term maintenance provider for building, facilities and equipment for six months in 2015.
Field work is set to last from June 23 to Aug. 3 and covers mostly the DoTr, according to the entrance conference agenda.
Audit highlights are set to be issued once analysis of evidence is completed, “preferably” on December 2017.
The seven-man special audit team supervised by State Auditor V Reina Afos and led by Attorney Melanie Uy-Soriano was convened through Office Order No. 2017-168, dated Feb. 14 and signed by COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo.
The award of the maintenance contract to PH Trams-CB&T Joint Venture was particularly controversial because then-MRT-3 general manager Al Vitangcol III’s uncle was a director in the private contractor. Graft charges are currently pending at the Sandiganbayan Third Division.
Vitangcol, for his part, went to the Supreme Court in February 2016 and accused the Office of the Ombudsman of arbitrariness. He said Abaya and his predecessor, Manuel Roxas II, should have been indicted too for their role in the utter deterioration of the train system infamous for its long lines, snail-paced speeds, and frequent breakdowns. SFM
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