Christine O. Avendaño | | May 24, 2017

Marlo dela Cruz, who was found to be an incorporator of all three companies that won the contracts to maintain the trains of Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) on Edsa, was a no-show again at the resumption on Tuesday of the hearing conducted by the Senate committee on public services.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the committee, said the Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms (Ossa) had failed to serve the subpoena for Dela Cruz to attend the hearing because he was not at the address he had given to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

It turned out that the house was previously registered in the name of Wilfredo dela Cruz, brother of the incorporator.

Train glitches

The many changes in the maintenance providers of MRT 3 were among the reasons its trains continue to have glitches, leading to allegations of mismanagement and the Senate inquiry.

After Sumitumo's maintenance contract expired, former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya signed the negotiated bid contract of PH Trams, which partnered with CB&T.

PH Trams won the negotiated bid to maintain and repair MRT 3 trains in 2012 until August 2013 even if it had just incorporated itself with small capitalization two months before the bidding.

After PH Trams, the contract was awarded to Global APT, which serviced the trains up to 2014. Busan Rails Inc. took over Global APT and still handles the job.

Sandiganbayan case

Poe said she got a letter from Dela Cruz's lawyer, Richard Leonard Cruz, who advised her committee "on the propriety of compelling the attendance of his client in the legislative inquiry."

Cruz invoked the sub judice rule as his client already had a pending case in the Sandiganbayan on the latter's alleged culpability in the MRT maintenance irregularities. Cruz also invoked his client’s right against self-incrimination.

But Poe reminded Cruz that the sub judice rule was not applicable to legislative inquiries as the purpose of the inquiry was in aid of legislation.

Still, she said Dela Cruz could invoke such right "only when a question propounded to him tends to elicit an answer that will incriminate him" but added that the committee would still have to determine whether such right was properly invoked.

Poe then directed the Ossa to go to Cruz's law office, Leynes Lozada-Marquez, so it could furnish it with a copy of the subpoena and to find out the address of its client.

Poe told reporters that Dela Cruz should be given the chance to air his side on why his companies were able to bag the maintenance contracts.

Rigged bidding?

But with his absence at the hearing, there was a growing suspicion that the conduct of the bidding was rigged or that the group of Dela Cruz had "undue advantage because they know people from the inside," the senator said.

Poe noted that Roel Bacar, president of CB&T or PH Trams' partner, had told the hearing that Dela Cruz was close to the old ruling Liberal Party to which former Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas and Abaya belonged.