LAWMAKERS were puzzled by the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to exclude Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya as respondent in charges filed against several officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) in connection with an allegedly irregular MRT maintenance contract.
Senator Grace Poe over the weekend said while the indictment of former MRT 3 General Manager Al Vitangcol and his cohorts is a welcome development, she could not understand why Abaya was not included as a respondent since he signed the P11.5-million maintenance contract.
She added that Abaya could have full knowledge of the facts and the applicable law surrounding such anomalous procurement service.
Aside from Vitangcol, also charged were businessman Wilson de Vera, Marlo dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit, Federico Remo and Arturo Soriano, Vitangcol’s uncle-in-law. All are incorporators of Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH-Trams), the maintenance provider.
The Ombudsman said Vitangcol used his power and authority as general manager, head of the negotiating team and member of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) “to dictate the proponents invited for the preliminary negotiations” of maintenance services.
The former MRT 3 chief was also accused of “intentionally hiding his affinitive relationship with Soriano, which would have automatically disqualified PH Trams.
“I welcome this indictment by the Ombudsman against Mr. Al Vitangcol and his cohorts. This should serve as a severe warning to the current MRT administrators to get their acts together and that ineptness prompted by illegal motives shall be dealt with severely,” Poe said.
Senator Nancy Binay also viewed the exclusion of Abaya as another example of selective justice on the part of the Ombudsman.
“He signed the contract and yet he was not included in the filing of charges. This is clear evidence that the Ombudsman is being selective on the application of justice,” Binay said in a radio interview aired over dzBB.
She added that Abaya’s position as president of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) could be the reason why he was spared.
Binay said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales should explain why LP members were not included in the complaint.