The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said on Thursday it will “fully cooperate” with the investigation ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman into the alleged anomalous maintenance contract for Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3).
“If you have nothing to hide, there is no reason to fear any investigation,” DOTC Secretary Emilio Joseph Abaya said.
He added: “As always, we will cooperate fully with the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman, just as we have with investigations undertaken by different branches and agencies of government, such as the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the National Bureau of Investigation.”
On Thursday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered a preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication process against key officials of the DOTC over the allegedly anomalous MRT-3 maintenance contract.
The Office of the Ombudsman said that Abaya, former MRT general manager Al Vitangcol III, the negotiating team, members of the DOTC Bids and Awards Committee and some from the private sector may face charges. Vitangcol left the MRT in May this year.
“We remain committed to transparency and the eradication of corruption in government. Ultimately, it is the public that will benefit from the search for truth,” Abaya said.
According to Ombudsman investigators, a maintenance agreement for the MRT-3 trains was entered into in December 1997 between MRT Corp. (MRTC) and Sumitomo Corp. This agreement expired in June 2010 and had four extensions until October 2012.
The investigators in their complaint said that a nine-month maintenance contract worth $1.15 million monthly was then awarded to Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation-Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation (PH Trams) “without public bidding” in 2012.
The Ombudsman said investigators found no emergency situation to justify the negotiated procurement.
In addition, Securities and Exchange Commission records showed that PH Trams was barely two months when the project was awarded, and that Vitangcol was confirmed to be related by affinity to PH Trams incorporator Arturo Soriano, who is his uncle-in-law.
Completed in July 2000, the MRT-3 carries about 600,000 passengers daily on its 17-kilometer route.
Bidding set for new maintenance contract
Earlier, MRT spokesperson Atty. Hernando Cabrera said that the existing maintenance contract for MRT-3, which was awarded to Autre Porte Technique Global Inc. (APT) in September last year, was about to be expire.
On September 1, the DOTC announced it was inviting potential bidders for the P2.2-billion three-year maintenance service contract for MRT-3.
In a bid bulletin, DOTC said, “To ensure that the MRT-3 System operates under safe running conditions with on-time and reliable performance in providing convenience to all passengers, while still effectively maintaining cost at a minimum level, the DOTC MRT-3 is inviting bidders for the three-year Maintenance Service Provider contract.”
The DOTC said it reserves the right to accept or reject any bid, to annul the bidding process, and to reject all bids at any time prior to contract award, without incurring any liability to the affected bidder or bidders.
The MRT-3 management assures the public that it will continue its efforts to improve the train system.
It said that from 2015 to 2017, 48 brand-new coaches will be delivered in tranches
to address the overcapacity problem of the rail system.
Under the procurement contract, the train supplier has 18 months, or until the third quarter of 2015, to deliver its prototype unit for testing before the rest of the light rail vehicles (LRVs) arrive on a monthly basis.
The DOTC said bids must be delivered on or before October 13 and bid opening is also set for October 13, 2014.