SOME members of the Liberal Party (LP) reportedly played a major part in two major contracts entered into by the Transportation department concerning the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) during the previous administration.
At the resumption of the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services on the problems of the MRT3, Roehl Bacar, president of CB&T, the partner of PH Trams that won the negotiated bid to maintain and repair MRT3 trains in August 2012, disclosed that the LP was key in bagging the multi-million contract.
Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the committee, asked Bacar how PH Trams-CB&T managed to get the P54- million per month maintenance contract even if PH Trams was undercapitalized.
PH Trams and CB&T replaced Sumitomo, the original maintenance provider of MRT 3, in 2012.
Sumitomo was the maintenance provider of MRT 3 from 2000 until its contract expired in August 2010. The Transport department, which was then headed by Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, an LP stalwart, extended Sumitomo’s contract for three times until October 2012.
Bacar said they were confident that they would be able to bag the MRT3 maintenance contract because personalities of PH Trams led by a certain Marlo de la Cruz had bragged about their connections with the LP.
Poe noted that the negotiations for the maintenance contract started with Roxas but were completed under former secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
“Admittedly, the fact of affiliations alone does not make the maintenance contracts problematic. The bigger problem lies in the fact that PH Trams, presumably, like all the other problematic maintenance contracts, did not deliver their end of the bargain,” Poe said.
Poe said the maintenance providers brokered by de la Cruz, who is reportedly close to Roxas, were able to bag contracts even when the corporations never delivered their end of the bargain.
“In fact, Mr. Marlo de la Cruz signed a waiver releasing CB&T of their liability for not having been able to purchase the spare parts, so CB&T had to take over that responsibility,” Poe added.
In an interview after the hearing, Poe said the committee was able to establish that de la Cruz was able to win government contracts because of his connections with the previous administration.
De la Cruz was invited by the Senate committee to appear in the hearing but he did not show up. His lawyer, Richard Leonard Cruz, sent a letter invoking the sub judice rule in view of his client’s pending case before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in connection with the irregularities in the MRT3 maintenance deals.
Poe during the hearing said the sub judice rule is not applicable to legislative inquiries, which are in aid of legislation.
LP’s involvement was also seen in the P3.8-billion contract for the supply of 48 light rail vehicles (LRVs) from Dalian, a Chinese firm.
Lawyer Al Vitangcol, former general manager of MRT3, cited an email sometime in May 2014 from Antonio de Mesa, representative of the winning bidder Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock, to Eugene Rapanut, a member of the LP.
De Mesa allegedly promised Rapanut that 5 percent of the project cost would go to the officials of the Transport department.
Vitangcol did not name names. The Ombudsman is investigating the issue, he said.
He said that the P3.8-billion Dalian contract was disadvantageous to the government and those involved in the process could be held liable.