By Julliane Love De Jesus | Philippine Daily Inquirer | July 4th, 2015
ILIGAN CITY—”It’s the Ombudsman’s decision, not mine,” Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said when asked to comment on critics implicating him in an allegedly anomalous Metro Rail Transit (MRT) maintenance contract.
“No comment. They never said anything good about the government so that’s fine,” Roxas, in Filipino, told reporters after distributing 23 brand-new patrol jeeps to Lanao del Norte provincial police on Saturday.
Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has questioned the Ombudsman’s resolution on the $11.5-million maintenance contract between the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH Trams).
Without public bidding, PH Trams, a company of former MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol’s uncle-in-law, bagged the maintenance contract in October 2012. The contract was awarded to the company two days later.
The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the graft complaint against Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya after it found no probable cause against the acting Liberal Party president while Vitangcol and five incorporators of PH Trams were indicted for graft.
“If the Ombudsman is saying that Abaya was new to the DOTC and therefore did not know that the contract was anomalous, why not investigate Mar Roxas who was DOTC secretary when the contract was negotiated? Is it only mere coincidence that several of Vitangcol’s coaccused have links to the Liberal Party headed by Roxas and Abaya?” Bayan said.
Before he was appointed head of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Roxas was the DOTC secretary in 2011.
“I’m not exactly clear of what happened after I had left but ang masasabi ko, it was Sumitomo who was the service provider. Iyon ang nadatnan ko at patuloy na kino-continue lang ‘yon noong nandoon ako,” Roxas said. Sumitomo Corp. was the Japanese firm that used to provide maintenance to MRT coaches.
Apart from Bayan, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s camp said the “(downhill) slide” of the MRT 3 started during Roxas’ tenure as transportation secretary.
Lawyer Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson for political affairs, said it was because of Roxas’ “inefficiency and corruption” that commuters riding the MRT 3 were suffering.