Abaya faces new graft charge over MRT deal


FORMER Transportation officials and other individuals are facing a graft complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for awarding the contract for the maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) to the Busan joint venture.

Named respondents in the complaint filed on Monday morning were former Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, former MRT-3 general manager Roman Buenafe; former undersecretaries Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco and Catherine Gonzales; and Ofelia Astrera, Charissa Eloisa Julia Opulencia, Oscar Bongon, Jose Rodante Sabayle and Maria Cecilia Natividad, formerly part of the department’s bids and awards committee.

RECKONING Militant groups file graft cases against former Transportation officials led by Joseph Emilio Abaya, accusing them of procuring the services of an incompetent firm to maintain the MRT-3.PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

Also charged were Eldonn Ferdinand Uy, Elizabeth Velasco, Belinda Ong Tan, Brian Velasco, and Chae-Gue Shim, who were then representatives of Edison Development and Construction, Tramat Mercantile, Inc., TMICORP, Inc., and Castan Corp., respectively.

Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares, Agham Secretary General Maria Finesa Cosico as well as Train Riders Network members Angelo Suarez, Maria Donna Miranda and James Relativo filed the complaint.

The accused the respondents of violating Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Section 10 of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“The Public Respondents’ act of awarding of awarding the Maintenance Contract to the Joint Venture of Busan in conspiracy with the Private Respondents, caused undue injury, and was grossly disadvantageous, to the Government and to the riding public,” they alleged in the complaint.

The complainants alleged that the respondents “chose a maintenance provider that utterly lacks the financial capability and technical expertise to carry out the maintenance of the MRT-3 System.”

“With the composition of the Joint Venture of Busan, it is perceivable that only Busan Transportation – which has the meager four percent (4%) equity in the joint venture, is involved in a contract that is similar to the maintenance contract service of the MRT-3 System. As such, Public Respondents, with evident bad faith or at the very least with gross inexcusable negligence, allowed an ineligible entity to be awarded the multi-billion contract,” the complainants alleged.

On November 6, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) terminated the contract with Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI).

The DoTr filed a graft complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman last month in connection with the now terminated contract.

Named respondents were Abaya, Lopez, Limcaoco and Gonzales; Buenafe; former assistant secretary Camille Alcaraz who was then bids committee chief; committee vice chairman Astrera; provisional members Opulencia, Bongon and Sabayle, and Natividad, a member.

Several individuals from BURI were also included, namely: Uy, Elizabeth Velasco, Tan, Brian Velasco, Chae-Gue Shim, Antonio Borromeo, Jun Ho Hwang, Elpidio Silvestre Uy, William dela Cruz and Eugene Rapanut.
Abaya, in a statement, denied the allegations.

“It is unfortunate that attempts to punish past efforts to put in place much-needed equipment and maintenance have been put in a bad light by complaints such as these. That being said, I recognize my responsibility to explain our efforts, and will do so once called by the Office of the Ombudsman. We have nothing to fear and nothing to hide. We are ready to face these with a clean conscience and the facts on our side, as we have done in a previous complaint filed against us,” Abaya said.


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