• ‘MRT budget may be LP’s poll kitty’

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    THE ruling Liberal Party (LP) is expecting to raise funds for the 2016 polls through a maintenance project for the Metro Rail System (MRT), Rico Quicho, a spokesman of Vice President Jejomar Binay, said.

    The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has already announced the project but has yet to reveal whether a relative of President Benigno Aquino 3rd is involved in it.

    “With DOTC’s lack of transparency, it could award MRT’s maintenance contract to a newly set up firm identified with the ruling party,” Quicho said on Monday.

    The MRT new contract “would not be an exception to the rule” in the party’s efforts to raise more money for next year’s elections, he added.

    “While pussyfooting on the anomalies perpetrated by Liberal Party and administration allies, the LP, in contrast, has been launching unwarranted investigations into alleged corrupt practices of the vice president and his son, Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay,” Quicho said.

    Former Czech Ambassador to Manila Josef Rychtar earlier revealed that former MRT head Al Vitangcol tried to extort $30 million from Inekon, a Czech firm which offered to sell 48 coaches to the MRT. At the time, MRT wanted to buy 70 coaches to expand the capacity of its 73 Czech-made units.

    The involvement of Eldon Cruz, husband of President Beningo Aquino Jr.’s sister, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, in the MRT’s corruption issue was not fully investigated; the project was simply terminated, Quicho recalled.

    He attributed the problems that had been bugging the MRT DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya’s “partisanship and totally wrong, faulty, and ineffective leadership.” Since Roxas and Abaya’s watch, “nothing has been done to remedy” MRT’s safety problems, Quicho said, referring to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, LP’s presumptive standard bearer.

    The MRT was designed for a daily load of 350,000 commuters but it services 600,000 passengers every day, well beyond its capacity, he said.

    Quicho’s allegations infuriated President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    Aquino was at the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

    “Talagang nakakainsulto iyon dahil unang-una, meron ba tayong kilalang magnanakaw na sasabihin niya kung ano ang nanakawin niya bago niya nakawin? (It is such an insult because in the first place, do we know someone who will announce what he will steal?” Aquino said in his speech.

    “So magnanakaw na raw ho ‘yung partido namin, tanga pa. Sobra namang insulto ho yata talaga iyon. Pero ganoon talaga ang buhay, lulunukin ko na lang ho (So aside from being thieves, we are also stupid. This is insulting. But life is like that, so I will will just accept it),” he added.

    The President, who marks his fifth year in office today, acknowledged the difficulties of the job such as facing harsh criticisms.

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