By Hannah Torregoza | Manila Bulletin | December 6, 2015

Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares expressed her disappointment that the Ombudsman has excluded Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya from criminal charges arising from the anomalous maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3).

The Ombudsman’s Fact Investigating Office initially included Abaya and other transportation officials in the graft probe, as the graft court did not find probable cause to charge Abaya during the preliminary investigation.
“Since Secretary Abaya signed and approved the contract, I am a little bit surprised that he doesn’t have liabilities whatsoever,” said Poe.
“In any case, I hope this serves as a warning to government officials that corrupt practices and illegal motives will not be condoned,” the lawmaker said.
However, the anti-graft body filed charges against MRT-3 general manager Al Vitangcol before the Sandiganbayan after finding probable cause that he conspired with PH Trams incorporators for the awarding of the $11.5-million maintenance contract without public bidding. Five PH Trams executives were also charged.

Poe hailed the Ombudsman for filing graft case against former Vitangcol and five other individuals allegedly involved in the anomalous transaction.

“I thank the Ombudsman for siding with the 600,000 daily commuters of the MRT who continue to suffer and endure bad service,” said Poe who is running for president in the May 2016 elections.
“We will monitor the progress of the case until justice is served,” she further said.
Poe, who chairs the Senate sub-committee on public services (transport) that conducted an inquiry into the MRT defects, said she believes the highest officials of the DOTC should also be held liable.