By Frederico D. Pascual Jr. | Philippine Star | July 6, 2015
ALTHOUGH Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya approved and signed the questioned maintenance contract for the decrepit Metro Rail Transit Line-3, he tossed the blame to his people in the MRT-3 bids and awards committee.
Having taken over the Department of Transportation and Communication on Oct. 18, 2012, or two days before the contract was awarded to an under-capitalized and inexperienced firm controlled by persons with insider connection, Abaya claimed he was not aware the award was defective.
At the very least, some quarters think, Abaya should be charged with negligence or incompetence.
His “I came in late’ excuse would place the blame for the irregular contract on his immediate predecessor in the DoTC, now Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who must have overseen the drawing up of the $1.15-million-a-month contract before Abaya took over.
Malacañang yesterday defended Abaya, but stopped short of throwing back the blame to Roxas, who looms as the administration-Liberal Party presidential bet in the May 2016 elections.
Poe asks why Ombudsman excluded Abaya
PRESS Secretary Sonny Coloma said the dropping of Abaya from the graft charges arising from the MRT contract was an act of the Office of the Ombudsman which, he pointed out, is a constitutional office beyond the influence of the Executive department.
He was reacting to Sen. Grace Poe’s questioning the Ombudsman’s exempting Abaya despite his being a signatory to the contract awarded to Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH Trams). The contract was renewed three times until Sept. 4, 2013.
“I would like to read in full the text of the resolution to find the reasons why Abaya was not included despite having allegedly signed the contract presumably with full knowledge of the facts and the applicable law surrounding such anomalous procurement of services,” Poe said Sunday.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales indicted only former MRT-3 general manager Al Vitangcol III for graft along with Wilson de Vera, Marlo de la Cruz, Manolo Maralit, Federico Remo and Arturo Soriano, all PH Trams incorporators.
Reports had it that Vitangcol was also the MRT chief end-user, head of the negotiating team and member of the bids and awards committee. Soriano was reportedly his uncle-in-law.
The Aquino administration had five years to fix the aging MRT-3 system, but did not bother. From 40 trains, only seven are now running on rickety rails when they do not crash or stall because of some defects or failure in the system.