There is “something fishy” over the P1.76 billion common ticketing system project hastily awarded by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) to AP Consortium, that may also be another scandal that will haunt the Aquino administration.
This, after a consumer group over the weekend warned that it will file a graft case against officials of the DOTC should it proceed with the planned P1.76-billion LRT-MRT common ticket system project.
The group likewise supports moves for Congress to investigate the project before the DOTC rolls it out this year.
Jason Luna, convenor of the Coalition of Filipino Consumers, an umbrella organization of five urban poor groups, is threatening to go to the Office of the Ombudsman to file graft charges against DOTC officials who decided to award the contract to the AP Consortium.
DoTC spokesman lawyer Migs Sagcal, however, said the awarding of the AFCS project was legal and aboveboard. He said the project would result in a more comfortable and efficient ride at both the LRT and MRT at no additional cost to the government or to consumers.
But Luna noted the haste to award by the DOTC as a sign that there was “something fishy” about the project that the government does not want the public to know about.
Luna said their group is thinking of filing a taxpayer’s suit against the DOTC for its failure to include consultations with people’s groups. Under Section 15 of the Ombudsman Law, a complaint maybe filed against any public officer when his act or omission appears to be “illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.”
“ We believe that the officials of the DOTC acted in an improper manner when they hastily granted the bid to a group whose bid is, according to several legislators, appears to be highly injurious to commuters like us. We must stop the DOTC from proceeding because they need to explain why they decided to award the project to a group who wants to pay staggered payments of the concession fees for ten long years when there is a bidder who can pay P1-billion lump sum, right here, right now.”
The project, says Luna, has been under public scrutiny for weeks now shortly after the DOTC decided to award the bid to the Ayala-Metro Pacific consortium, whose bid, according to several legislators, appears disadvantageous to the commuting public.
Luna said the DOTC owes it to the public to explain why it decided to award the contract to a bidder whose bid is deemed injurious to the interests of the Filipino People.
The LRT-MRT common ticket project aims to scrap the magnetic stripe ticketing system being used by the MRT and replace it with a contactless card system, similar to the ones being used in Hong Kong and other Asian countries. The system aims to harmonize the ticketing system being used by the MRT and the LRT.
More than four million commuters are expected to benefit from the system when it rolls out in 2015. Though the project is laudable, it is fraught with controversy since the DOTC wants to award the contract to the bidder who promises to pay government in staggered payments is conditioned also as to the rise in volume of ridership within 10 years.
Luna said Congress, especially the Lower House and even the Blue Ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona Jr. should look into the matter very closely to protect the welfare and interest of 4.6 million commuters who will be affected by this project.
“ We laud Rep. Ted Ridon for standing up against the DOTC for on and behalf of the people. We therefore call on Senator Teofisto Guingona Jr. to stand up and do his patriotic duty and immediately convene a blue ribbon investigation. We are not saying that this project is fraught with graft. What we would like to avoid is for us, commuters to suffer eventually because of the wrong decisions made by our officials.”