Joseph Tristan Roxas | GMA News | September 20, 2017

Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), the maintenance contractor of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), sued Transportation Undersecretary Cesar Chavez before the Office of the Ombudsman for graft and administrative complaints.

The complaint also named Hernando Cabrera, senior technical assistant to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Jorgette Bellen, program head of Uici-Seoul Metro-Dong-IL-JF Cancio Joint Venture Program.

The joint venture was tapped by the DOTr to provide consultancy services for the MRT-3.

The company claimed that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has not paid BURI its monthly dues now amounting to P176 million.

The sum includes totally withheld and partially unpaid dues, said lawyer Redentor Roque. The BURI counsel noted that the DOTr is supposed the company P54 million a month as maintenance service provider of the mass rail transit system.

"Around P176 million, more or less. This would include billings that are totally unpaid, and this would include amounts that were partially withheld from previous billings," Roque told reporters in an interview before the case was filed.

Under the three-year contract BURI and the DOTr signed in 2016, there was no basis for not paying the company, said Charles Mercado, BURI corporate secretary, and that Chavez had been issuing excuses that were tantamount to "whimsical delays" as why the payments had not be processed.

"Ang tagal ng nasa lamesa niya, palipat-lipat lang siya, 'di naman niya pinipirmahan. This has gone to the entire procedure already except for the preparation ng voucher, eh, siya 'yung pipirma ng voucher. Naku, kung minsan ang tagal na. Inuupuan niya talaga, sinasadya," Mercado claimed.

Chavez told reporters in a separate statement that the decision to withhold payments was "precisely to protect public funds, hence, antithesis to graft. How can I be charged with graft when I was only protecting public funds?"

The DOTr pays the service provider once the documents required by the Commission on Audit have been finished, the DOTr official noted.

"Bakit kailangan masinop sa pagsusuri ng billing? Para matiyak na original ang spare parts, at hindi rin galing sa 'cannibalized' o kinuha lang na piyesa sa ibang bagon. Ito ay para sa kaligtasan ng mga mananakay," Chavez said.