Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz | Business Mirror | January 27, 2016
THE Alliance for Consumerism and Transparency (Action) recently filed graft charges against two undersecretaries, as well as several other officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 before the Ombudsman in connection with the allegedly highly anomalous award of a P3.8-billion maintenance contract.
In an 18-page complaint, Vito Gaspar Silo, Action secretary-general, said the DOTC and MRT 3 officials violated the government’s procurement law which mandates the conduct of public bidding when they awarded the P3.8-billion contract to the Busan-Edison-Tramat Mercantile-TMI Corp.-Castan group on December 23, 2015, after the conduct of an emergency negotiated procurement.
The three-year contract includes the general overhaul of the rail line’s 43 trains and the total replacement of the line’s signaling systems.
Leading the long list of respondents in the complaint were Transportation Undersecretary for Planning Rene K. Limcaoco, the head of the DOTC Negotiation Team that conducted the emergency negotiated procurement for the three-year MRT maintenance contract, and Transportation Undersecretary for Administration and Procurement Catherine P. Gonzales, the vice head of the negotiation team.
Also charged were MRT General Manager Roman Buenafe, a member of the negotiation team; as well as comembers Maria Karen Oildan, Rafael Peñafiel, Cecilia Bien, Eugene Cecilio, Rita Caraan, Eleanor Naidas, Daniel Barrera, Arturo Din Jr., Alberto de la Cruz, Richard Gubat and Mike Narca.
Also included as respondents in the graft complaint were officers of the awarded joint-venture group, the Busan Transportation Corp.-Edison Development Construction Corp.-Tramat Mercantile Inc.-TMI Corp.-Castan Corp., namely, Chae-Gue Shim, Eugene Rapanut, Eldonn Uy and Christian Oscar Rapanut.
The group claimed that the DOTC had added scopes of work in the emergency negotiated procurement, particularly the general overhaul of the 43 trains and the total replacement of the signaling systems when the two components were not included in two failed public biddings earlier conducted by the agency.
“The inclusion of the additional scopes necessitated the increase of the appropriated budget from P2.2 billion in the first failed bidding, to P2.3 billion in the second bidding,” the group said.
The complainant also said when the DOTC Negotiation Team started the negotiated procurement on September 1, 2015, the budget has already ballooned up to P4.25 billion.
“More important, the subject maintenance for the first two public biddings only covers maintenance service provider. Thus, to justify further the negotiated procurement and the increase of the approved budget, the Public Respondents included in the maintenance service provider, the general overhauling of 43 units of train and total replacement of signalling,” Action said.
“This is highly irregular considering that the maintenance of the signaling system has already been awarded to Bombardier, a highly regarded OEM [original equipment manufacturer]. Therefore, the upgrading of signaling system should have been accomplished and to enter anew with another maintenance on the entire system is clearly not only anomalous resulting to the dissipation of government funds on the first phase of completed and systematic upgrading of signaling system undertaken by Bombardier, but also highly suspicious,” it added.
It said the DOTC had neither posted the negotiated procurement on its web site, nor on the Government Electronic Procurement System, and “worse, had merely distributed the information and copies of the 447-page manual on the negotiations to their selected invitees.”
“Hence, the upgrading of the signaling system has already been accomplished and to enter anew with another maintenance service provider by replacing the signaling system which has just been upgraded in the recently concluded maintenance contract, is clearly not only anomalous considering the dissipation of government funds on the first phase of completed and systematic of signaling system undertaken by Bombardier, but also highly suspicious which should, therefore, be scrutinized by this Honorable Office,” the group added.