Bobit S. Avila | The Philippine Star | May 24, 2017

Pres. Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte has not even reached his first year in power and allow me to take a quote from his earlier pronouncement that he made on the very first paragraph of his First State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, 2016 wherein he said, "We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back. Finger-pointing is not the way. That is why I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past or blaming those who are perceived to be responsible for the mess that we are in and suffering from. Except maybe to extract a lesson or two from its errors, we will not tarry because it is the present that we are concerned with and the future that we should be prepared for.

Lest I be misunderstood, let me say clearly, that those who betrayed the people's trust shall not go unpunished and they will have their day in court. And if the evidence warrants, they will have their day of reckoning, too." This statement may sound like a contradiction of sorts… but the recent pronouncement of Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, II that he would investigate the VIP Treatment of Janet Lim Napoles when she surrendered to then Pres. Benigno "PNoy" Aquino, III is a step in the right direction if we are to give Justice to the corrupt-weary Filipino nation!

Last Monday, we saw on live TV the Senate hearing on the Committee of Transportation on the contracts of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT 3) wherein former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya was present. Under his leadership in the DOTC, they awarded a short-term contract to Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation or PH Trams.

When Sen. Grace Poe interrogated him on this dubious contract, the former DOTC Secretary apparently mentioned God, not just once but three times! Abaya said, "For us, we did all we could do. We think we did the right thing and our conscience was clear. When we finally face our God, I could answer all the things that he would ask me." I find it strange that Abaya was willing to face God to answer any questions that he would ask, but he couldn't give Sen. Grace Poe a straight answer?

Then former Sec. Abaya admitted something we never expected for him to admit before the Senators… that he was not aware that PH Trams only had a P625,000 paid up capital and was only incorporated two months before the DOTC awarded this P54-miilion per month maintenance contract for the Year 2012. Many pundits now believe that Sec. Abaya maybe covering up for the alleged sins of his boss, Manuel "Mar" Roxas. Why wasn’t there any due diligence on the part of the DOTC is inexcusable! Sen. Poe remarked, "You can't even buy a Vios with that paid-up capital!"

What raised our eyebrows when this deal was struck by the DOTC was that, PH Trams replaced the tried and tested maintenance provider, Sumitomo that is why the MRT never had any problems from the year 2000 to 2010. When Sumitomo's contract expired, the DOTC extended it only for six months in 2012 then gave this contract to PH Trams. Now we know that this deal, which was shrouded with mystery, was given to PH Trams, which had no experience in maintaining railways. Is it because its owner, Mario dela Cruz is a close friend of Mar Roxas? If you ask me, Sen. Grace Poe should dig deeper into the involvement of Mar Roxas into this deal.

Meanwhile in another case of corruption during the Aquino Regime, we also noted that Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado is now facing a graft charge over the procurement of P486-million closed circuit television (CCTV) system without public bidding. No public bidding for the MRT maintenance and now another case of zero bidding for CCTV cameras?

Pundits already checked out the figures on this P486-million deal for 700 cameras of which when they struck this deal, NAIA already had 177 cameras installed. So Honrado really needed only 523 cameras, which if divided by P486-million, it would come up to P921,254.32 pesos for each camera! Any grade school student with a simple knowledge of arithmetic would know that something is strangely odd in the figures here. I have dealt with CCTV cameras for our buildings… and this cost is simply staggering! Someone ought to be jailed for this corrupt deal!

What is very telling in this story is that, these two men are very close to then Pres. Benigno "PNoy" Aquino, III whose nauseating mantra was, "Kung walang korrupt, walang mahirap!" Let me repeat what Pres. Duterte said in his first SONA, "that those who betrayed the people's trust shall not go unpunished and they will have their day in court." We gathered that Janet Lim Napoles wants to turn state witness because she is the least guilty of her scam. But first things first… she must answer first why she surrendered to Pres. Aquino in Malacañang? Did she strike a deal with then Pres. PNoy?