6 other former officials implicated
CRIMINAL charges were filed on Tuesday against former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and six other former officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications in connection with the P3.8-billion Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP) that was disallowed by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Charged at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Government Procurement Reform Act and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees were Abaya; Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, former chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee; Rene Limcaoco, Julianito Bucayan Jr. and Dante Lantin, former members of the BAC; Catherine Jennifer Gonzales, overall head of the BAC Secretariat; Alfonso Tan Jr., former chief of the Land Transportation Office (LTO); and Ron Salo, corporate counsel of PPI-JKG Joint Venture.
The complaint was filed by the Citizens Crime Watch and Liga ng Eksplosibong Pagbabago.
The complainants said the respondents should be made liable for collecting payments from motorists without issuing the corresponding license plates.
“The conspiracy of the car plate manufacturers to commit the offenses, as charged, would not have succeeded without the knowledge, intervention, act or omission of the members of the BAC,” they added.
The complainants said no post-qualification of the winning bidder was done contrary to recommendations of the Technical Working Group that would have established if PPI-JKG joint venture had the money to finance the manufacture of the license plates.
“It can be inferred that the DOTC-BAC acted in manifest partiality toward PPI-JKG Joint Venture. The members of the DOTC-BAC, knowing the falsity of the documents submitted, qualified the said joint venture and even approved the award of the MVLPSP project to the same,” they added. “Apparently, the award of the project to the same joint venture hinged on the financial and/or material gains that these respondents would get from the same joint venture in the event of a successful award.”
The groups urged the DOJ to investigate the respondents and file charges against them in court if it finds sufficient evidence to warrant their indictment.
In June this year, the Supreme Court stopped the LTO from distributing the 300,000 imported license plates confiscated by the Bureau of Customs after the PPI-JKG failed to pay the shipment’s duties and taxes.
The LTO wanted to release the license plates to ease the backlog but the High Court issued a temporary restraining order without prejudice to the resolution of the case.
The tribunal also stopped the transportation office from releasing 400,000 license plates for motorcycles.
Named respondents in the case before the SC were Abaya, then-Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., then-Budget Secretary Florencio Abad; and National Treasurer Roberto Tan.
In July this year, the COA found the P3.8-billion license plate procurement deal illegal and ordered officials of the DOTC, now the Department of Transportation, to settle the P477.9 million it initially paid to the plate supplier.
In its Notice of Disallowance, the audit commission said the deal was illegal because the contract awarded to the joint venture of Knieriem BV Goes and Power Plates Development Concept Inc. (JKG-PPI) was not in accordance with procedures prescribed under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.