• For the MRT-3 mess, Roxas and Abaya should be in jail by now



    OR perhaps in Dutertespeak, Aquino 3rd’s transport secretary, Emilio Abaya, and his predecessor, Mar Roxas, should have been lynched at the highest point of the MRT-3 line along Edsa for having made life a daily hell for hundreds of thousands of commuters with their handling of that mass transport system.

    How Abaya and Roxas messed up the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) line is probably the most documented case of incompetence—or corruption—in running a government enterprise. If the Ombudsman weren’t Conchita Carpio-Morales, who was so close to Aquino that he chose her to swear him to office as President, I’m sure Roxas and Abaya would be in jail by now.

    Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc has practically made a crusade of exposing the corruption at the MRT-3, having well-placed insiders and a witness to all the shenanigans there.

    The Yellow gang also made a big mistake of attempting to make the mild-mannered MRT-3’s general manager Al Vitangcol—now a columnist in this paper—a fall guy in another alleged case of corruption, that the lawyer and engineer fought back, and has apparently made it his crusade to expose the past regime’s corruption at MRT-3.

    Consider the facts and tell me if I am exaggerating.

    For 10 years after MRT-3 started operations, the Japanese firm Sumitomo Corp. maintained the system under a contract with Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC), the MRT-3’s private builder and operator. The train was so efficient that Sumitomo had boasted about MRT-3 in its sales pitch to bid for mass-transit projects around the world.

    Renewed 4 times
    When Sumitomo’s contract expired in July 2010, it was given six-month maintenance contracts only. This placed Sumitomo in a bind as it required a longer time frame so it could estimate how much of maintenance inventory it needed to keep, which accounted for half of its$1 million monthly contract. Sumitomo repeatedly wrote to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to request a bidding for a longer-term contract. DOTC didn’t reply at all.

    The top Yellow leaders Roxas and Abaya (inset) responsible for the MRT-3 mess.

    However, on October 4, 2012, or just two weeks before Sumitomo’s fourth six-month contract was to have ended on October 19, the DOTC said it would no longer renew it, and that a 3-year contract would be bidded out.

    It scheduled a bidding in two weeks. Sumitomo calculated that this was such an impossible short time frame that it backed out of the auction. That was the start of the MRT-3’s deterioration.

    Note that all this time, during which the bidding could have been announced way in advance so that bidders would have had time to prepare for it, the DOTC head was Roxas, who ran for the presidency in 2016 and landed—amazingly—second.

    However, in August 2012, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo was killed in an airplane crash and Aquino appointed Roxas to replace him. Roxas assumed the post—strangely—only two months later, on October 19. It was Abaya, appointed to replace Roxas, who signed the maintenance contract with an obscure firm PH Trams-CB&T on the day he assumed office as DOTC head.

    This two-month-old company, capitalized at only P2.5 million, or less than one percent of the P300 million cost of the maintenance contract, won the bidding that Roxas had called just two weeks before. One of its six investors was known in Pangasinan province as a Liberal Party financial supporter – Wilson de Vera. He had been accused by the Czech ambassador of attempting in July 2012 to extort $30 million from the Czech company Inekon in exchange for winning the contract to supply MRT-3 with train cars.

    He just signed it
    Abaya, in a hearing the other day at the Senate, claimed he didn’t know about the firm’s background, and that it was Roxas who made all the decisions over the maintenance contract and the bidding for it. He said he just presumed that nothing was wrong with the contract so he signed the documents when he took over as head of the DOTC on October 19.

    Why did Roxas drag his feet for a month and a half to leave his DOTC post only October 19, even if Aquino had appointed him to the DILG post on August 31? Is this a huge coincidence that October 19 was the day PH Trams signed the contract with MRT-3?

    Am I too suspicious to speculate that Roxas was a segurista, that he wanted to make sure that his two-year plot to get a favored contractor in place before he stepped down pushed through? Was it even a better scenario for him that his apparently witless lackey, Abaya, and Vitangcol signed the contract papers and, therefore, would be accountable if the scheme was exposed?

    What these morons did not realize, though, was that Sumitomo’s maintenance contract was not as profitable as it seemed. Half of the contract price was the cost of inventory for the MRT-3’s parts, which were expensive because many of them were precision-engineered and of the highest-quality steel.

    What these idiots also did not know was that Sumitomo was satisfied with getting the smallest business margins from the contract, as it was more concerned about its reputation so it could get more and bigger projects all over the world. Its MRT-3 maintenance contract barely made a profit, but Sumitomo used the rail’s efficiency as proof of its expertise in light rail building and maintenance.

    Indeed, Sumitomo has built a reputation as one of the best light-rail builders in the world, with its latest projects being the $500 million contract signed in 2012 to build Vietnam’s first urban rail system, and a $398 million supply contract for Chicago Metra’s commuter rail cars.

    Scrimping on expenses
    Scrimping on expenses as much as it could to make the contract hugely profitable, PH Trams didn’t build up a stock of spare parts and resorted to cannibalizing its other cars for the required parts. The result: the number of cars running at present stands at 14 at the most, down sharply from 70 when Sumitomo was running MRT-3.

    Without a stock of replacements, the trains’ steel wheels got to be so squeezed into ovals so that these had to run slower, or else they would be derailed. With maintenance becoming so messed up, MRT-3 trains made mid-station stops, or had to run so slowly.

    As a result there has been so much outrage over MRT-3’s breakdowns and overcrowding of its coaches. On December 2015, Abaya awarded after a ‘ simplified bidding” a new P4 billion contract to a consortium led by the Korean Busan Transportation Corp. As happened during Roxas’ time, Abaya claimed there was an emergency situation so that the “winner” of the bid was determined through negotiations. The contract is for three years, i.e., until 2018.

    This consortium’s lawyer is one Luis Carpio, Jr., the brother of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

    Is that what you’d call bullet-proofing a contract?

    Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
    Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
    Twitter: @bobitiglao


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    1. Jomar Pepito on

      The recent Government sitting on long list of infra projects where Private partners, some of the most trustworthy names in business like Ayala, MVP and SMC are just waiting to start building it — this includes the NLEX-SLEX connector and the C-5 cavitex connector, etc. and then they wrecked the MRT.

    2. Luisita Marikit on

      Wow! well plotted pala ito. Galing ng mgagalawan ng mga Dilaw ha. So ano ngayon tayo ang magsusuffer? Itong PNoy administration talaga eh. Panay Noynoying eh, ang bagal ng improvement puro corruption lang.

    3. Time for Ombudsman Carpio to prove she’s not bias by indicting Sec. Abaya who admittedly sign MRT Maintenance Contract without thinking due to trust and confidence with then DOTC Sec.Roxas..

      Mapapamura ka talaga…….

    4. I agree that the Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales should be included in those who should be prosecuted and jailed, however I doubt if Pres Duterte will ever do it because of the relationship of his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is the wife of the nephew of Conchita Carpio-Morales, atty. Manases Carpio. Remember the Pilipino saying. “blood is thicker than water.” Remember the SAF 44, where after promising the widows and relatives of our fallen soldiers that the case will be reopened, suddenly President Duterte took back his words and said that the Ombudsman is already investigating the case? Why the sudden change of heart? I still believe in the sincerity of our President to rid our government of corruption, but he should have the political will to do it, no matter what the cost is.

      • President Duterte took back his words and said that the Ombudsman is already investigating the case

        Duterte took back all his campaign promises of fighting corruption and justice for the SAF 44.

        The Pork Barrel investigation, It’s been a year and the only thing that changed was Napoles had her life sentence overturned.

        Pnoy, De Lima and Ombudsman Morales only charged 3 opposition senators out of the 20 on the Napoles list.
        100 House members on the Napoles list with none arrested.

        Maybe they were too busy with the 3 they arrested but even those have not been to trial.
        Going on 4 years now.

        Typical politician, Big promises and in the end nothing. Just wait for Justice is their new slogan

        Wait forever.

    5. The Great Defiant on

      is it true then when Ninoy said…”I will make them suffer so that Filipinos will hate marcos all the more?”

    6. Ruth Dimaano on

      WTH! My yellow feb friends kept on shouting about heavy traffic blaming it all to Pres Duterte when now it is very clear that the reason behind traffic congestion is their overly-patronized-claimin-to-be-decent-lp standard bearers. Obviously if trains were shutdown and malfunctioned the supposed commuters would take buses, jeepneys or drive their own cars to wherever they want to go. The ombudsman chief should be fired too!! Nakakagalit! Ang daming Juan de la Cruz ang naghihirap

    7. I ride MRT3 train from Cubao to Taft together with hundreds of thousands suffering commuters daily. “Jailing” is not enough! It seems too soft punishment compared to the agony and humiliating grind we are subjected to daily.

    8. The height of corruption and economic sabotage that’s primarily to blame for the 2+ billion peso a day traffic mess, that neglect of mass transit system epitomized by the incompetent and graft ridden previous yellow administration must not go to unpunished.

    9. Huwaw grabe sa tinde! San kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha ang mga dilawan? Magkakasabwat pati si Conchita. I really hope Duterte would act on these incompetent plunderers

    10. The VEHICLE PLATE is another issue connected to ABAYA which needs to be investigated. This idiot is the mastermind in the scheme to replace all VEHICLE PLATES which resulted to a lot of vehicles running with cardboard plate numbers. This guy should be in jail as soon as possible.

    11. When we look at the overall cost as the criteria in awarding a project, then expect to have shenanigans in place!

      • Jun pAbaya Aguinaldo is apo of Emilio Aguinaldo, traitor and treason cases from Spanish-American-Japanese era; Mar Liar Roxas, decenteng apo Manuel Roxas treason cases and Japanese corroborator, just like Yolanda Funds and Dinations gone with the wind, payment for rehabilitation by Japan for war atrocities also gone with the wind, if Philippines have that money we have fighter jets and maybe aircraft carriers. All countries that were victim of Japan recovered with the money paid by Japanese but our country never recovered because it is gone with the wind and we dare blame Marcoses why not start with Aguinaldo and Roxas first.

    12. They should be put to jail for all their crimes against the Filipino people! This is the real human rights violation! They have made life miserable for hundreds of thousands of Filipinos!



      • Pnoy should also be included and rappler, abs cbn and inquirer for news reports portraying pnoy as the best pres ever when clearly the fact shows the opposite..
        During arroyo’s second term our economy grew we were awashed w cash .. thats why arroyo introduced the 4p’s or cct which was highly criticized then, to help the poorest of the poor more importantly to gain access to education.. arroyo also focused on infrastructure most of wc were finished during pnoys term.. the pbo and outreach offices of the govt like lto, sss, dfa, etc shd also be credited to arroyo, she has done all these despite the yellows numerous attempt to oust her.
        Now they are criticizing dutertes diplomatic approach to the contested island in the west phil sea when they clearly know from the beginning that the filing of the case in the intl tribunal made the chinese angry and they made pronouncement they will not honor the outcome of the case.. the filing of the case triggered the bldg of structures in the disputed islands and they prohibited our fishermen to fish in the area… now yellows want to duterte to insist on chinas honoring the decision when they clearly know it will result in war as duterte said isang missile bomb lang fr china obliterated fr the face pf the earth na ang pnas.. anyway yan yata ang gusto ng usa magkagulo din sa southeast asia against china just like other parts of globe w conflict wc accdg to hilary leaks funded daw ng usa ang isis, to create chaos and war.. we dont know if this is true but definitely something to ponder..

    14. Past Pnoy Admin’s fault and mess (MRT-Mess Rail Transit) engineered by no other than his Roxas passed on to his loyal ex soldier Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, who only follow orders as soldier..

      The worst Philippine Administrators, Pnoy and his Minions..

      1. Worst Justice System under De Liema the mother of Evil where drugs became haven of Generals and Drug Lords.
      2. Worst DOTC Head under Roxas
      3. Worst DILG under Roxas where barangays, Police Generals became Drug Lords and Protectors with the connivance of DeLiema.

      Now they’re destroying PRRD for simple reason that DU30 would like to correct what the past Admin had wronged..

      Contra pa more Yellowtards..

    15. Cruel-World on

      It is a pity that we don’t have like minded soldier – the like of Sgt. Samuel Doe of Liberia who assassinated all corrupt government officials of their country. Truly, Philippines is a hopeless country that tolerates crimes as nothing of sort. The country’s “main menu” is corruption in all forms, color and scent. Where are our good lawyers, nationalist soldiers, good policemen to help clean the mess? It seems there is none? Everyone is busy doing their secret business under the sun.

    16. So it now appears that the appointment of Conchita Carpio Morales was.a Grand plan to shield these morons from corruption cases that they expect to arise from their shenanigans.

    17. Your investigative piece is as usual, both enlightening and shocking at the same time.

      Although I hope there is a thorough investigation, I’m less concerned about punishing the wrong-doers. What I am hoping for is that this becomes a hard lesson learned in how corruption has hurt this country and its people for so long. There is a pressing need to ensure that this kind of corruption is not repeated again – especially with all the funding coming in for infrastructure development. There really seems to be some major flaws in how these contracts are executed and even more sorry excuses for government oversight.

      One has to wonder how much better off the people of the country would be if these type of funds had been used properly and not been siphoned off for personal gain. Perhaps, this type of corruption and incompetence has been the worst violators of human rights in this country and the root of poverty, drug abuse, and terrorism.

      • “I’m less concerned about punishing the wrong-doers.”

        What?! Really? So you want them go unpunished without invoking the fullest extent of the law?

        “An eye for an eye! A tooth for a tooth!” Now, multiply that with all the crimes committed by these offenders of the law of the land, even their lives would not be enough to suffer the consequences of their wrongdoings!!!

    18. Build a project substandard at 10% and you will render the project irreversibly damaged engineers say. So why expect ‘repairable’ damage out of a marathoned bidding and MRT Project contract awarded to a fly-by-night, under-capitalized company? It is 99% substandard. Slightly better than the Napoles scam of exactly 100%! Luy said he gets 5%, Napoles 35% and senator/congressman 60%, in other words, ghost project. It was corruption to the core imperilling our commuting society. Abaya was even surprised the recurring MRT related accidents were at least ‘not fatal’. Of this, one Star columnist then said to Abaya, ‘fatal ina mo’!

    19. If you have experienced living in Japan, you could tell that Japan’s train system is one of the best in the world. Their trains are timely and efficient in mass transporting a lot of commuters especially in peak hours. Likewise, their train makers and maintenance contractors are among the top in the world. Sumitomo is one of those dedicated companies that ensures that trains will run efficiently with less downtime due to maintenance by keeping their inventory of spare parts up to date. In fact, Sumitomo requested a longer contract from the DOTC because they find it difficult to forecast quantities of spare parts required for just 5 to 10 years. Their more realistic assessment is to forecast spare parts requirement for more than 10 years ahead. Right after Sumitomo’s contract was terminated by DOTC, the next contract awarded to a new maintenance contractor was only 6 months. How can you forecast an inventory of spare parts required for operation if your contract is too short? No wonder, the train cars became less efficient and deteriorated. Someone must be made to account for the MRT3 mess. The Filipino taxpayers should not take this stupidity sitting down.

      • The Filipino taxpayers should not take this stupidity sitting down.

        They will take it and more.
        Scandal after scandal and no one ever gets convicted of anything.

        Investigations are designed to take 5 years or more, Time to trial is another 7 to 10 years.

        15 years later who cares.

        The system is designed to produce no results. Years of accusations and denials.
        Investigations by corrupt and incompetent law enforcement agencies or Senators looking to get their pictures in the papers and on television all resulting in waiting for a trial and conviction that will never happen.

        Keep waiting forever.

    20. The Liberal Party, Cory Aquino, Noynoy Aquino, Mar Roxas ALL FAILED US BIG. They were given opportunities and the people believed in them, but they failed us and fooled us. They cannot blame us if many people hate them now.

      “It (DOTC) scheduled a bidding in two weeks.” that’s a clue that there was something sinister and devious that DOTC head was plotting. Somebody tried to recoup the money he spent and lost in the last 2016 election. How could Sumitomo have prepared and submitted a bid in such a short time for that big project.

      I thought Marcos was the most corrupt Philippine president when you heard years ago the accusations hurled by his enemies.

      the Marcos government spent hundreds of millions for the Light Rail Transit and it’s still running smoothly now and no major breakdowns. Pres. Noynoy Aquino had 6 years to resolve the MRT breakdowns but failed even when the government spent billions for the maintenance operation of MRT.

      • What even makes me spiteful of these crooks is that we get to ride the clunker every single day AND THEY DONT.

      • That is too light a punishment for a crime so big. When Ombudsman Carpio Morales steps down at the end of her term, these idiots should be charged right away and hauled to jail for plunder so they would not be able to post bail. They should rot in jail for putting at risk the lives of many commuters of MRT and for pocketing the money that should have gone to the proper maintenance of its trains. The war on drugs casualties as these LP morons including Trillanes and Alejano claim are peanuts compared to the crimes committed by the morons in enriching themselves at the expense of the safety of the public.