ANTI-corruption advocates on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the latest controversy involving the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), particularly the alleged anomaly in the bidding for the maintenance service for the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT 2).
Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), called on DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to step down to erase suspicion that he is using his position to raise campaign funds for the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
According to Jimenez, as long as Abaya heads the DOTC, suspicion that the agency is being used as a “milking cow” will persist because the latter is the president of the Liberal Party (LP).
Jimenez made the call a day after a graft complaint was filed against the members of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) bids and award committee (BAC) who oversaw the bidding process for the maintenance of LRT 2 that runs from Santolan in Marikina City to Recto in Manila City.
In a five-page complaint, the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC) questioned the one-sided treatment of the proceedings surrounding the tender of services for the maintenance of the 15-year-old train system.
Criminal and administrative complaints were filed against Jose Jobel Belarmino, Chairman of the BAC, and members Amador Calado, Jr., Wilfredo Alday, Jesus Jimenez, Nestor Flores, Anita Lomboya, Joseph Hagos, and Adelo Jandayan.
Also included in the complaint were Alwinston Pillos, head of the BAC Secretariat and Secretariat member Michael Cueto.
“As if the agonizingly long lines and regular delays and periodic breakdowns in MRT3 (Metro Rail Transit 3) are not enough, we again find another familiar story of government corruption. A bidder, a new maintenance service provider, has been given undue benefits by the DOTC. When will the corruption in this agency ever end?” NCFC legal counsel and spokesperson Oliver San Antonio said.
The group claimed that the BAC and Secretariat members violated procurement laws when they re-opened the period for accepting bids after it has been closed.
The NCFC said the BAC accepted the bid submission of the BUSAN-EDC Joint Venture “despite clear and undisputed non-compliance with the packing and sealing instructions.” Moreover, the BAC declared the group’s tender as compliant with the requirements on Translated Foreign Documents even if the submission was “clearly wanting in describing the documents as an accurate translation of a foreign document.”
“There’s no reason why the BAC would allow deviation and non-compliance with procurement rules. Is it because there’s urgent need to project an image of speed and perception of responsiveness to the public’s everyday transport woes? That’s highly doubtful. Most likely, this is another case of government favoring a contractor, to the detriment of the Filipino commuter,” San Antonio said.
In May, the NCFC filed graft chargesagainst Abaya and another set of BAC members for alleged anomalies in the award of the contract for the Contactless Automated Fare Collection System (CAFCS) covering all three lines of the metro rail system.
Jimenez said the reported anomalies in the DOTC and other government agencies strengthen suspicions that the administration is raising funds for next year’s elections.