Palace intervention in LRTA deal sought

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A consumer’s group on Tuesday called on top government officials to intervene and stop the “anomalous” transaction between the Light Railways Transit Authority (LRTA) and a Fil-Korean firm that may result in the plunder of public funds.

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Oliver San Antonio, counsel and spokesperson of the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC), said a “drastic intervention” is needed to prevent the Fil-Korean joint venture BUSAN-EDC’s entry as the LRTA’s service maintenance provider through an anomalous bidding.

San Antonio appealed for “immediate assistance from higher authorities” within the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and Malacañang to prevent the misuse of state funds.

In July, the NCFC filed graft and administrative charges against members of the LRTA’s Bids and Awards Committee (LRTA-BAC) for favoring BUSAN-EDC.

An internal report of the LRTA Technical Working Group said the bid submitted by BUSAN was non-responsive to key technical specs of the Santolan to Recto rail line. “First, it’s been more than 120 days since the opening of the bids, and the contract hasn’t been awarded yet. That’s already violative of the provisions of the Government Procurement Act,” San Antonio said.

“Second, we’re verifying reports from reliable sources that the BAC appointments were never renewed. If this is true, there may be serious questions on the legality and validity of any BAC action, both in the recent past or in the near future,” he added.

These factors, taken together, made “higher up” intervention an imperative, the NCFC counsel insisted.

“We’ve already raised the legal and safety issues repeatedly in our Ombudsman complaint and in the general public discussion. On a policy front, however, nothing’s moving. If the PNoy government is truly serious about addressing the transport issue, now’s the time to act,” San Antonio said.

Aside from calling the attention of Malacanang and DOTC, the NCFC sent a letter to the Senate, House of Representatives, and the Department of Justice (DOJ), urging them to conduct a thorough investigation in the LRTA Line 1 service contract.

“We can’t see where “Tuwid na Daan” is headed because there’s traffic, the commuter trains are faulty, transport contracts are feasted on by the corrupt in the DOTC and LRTA. It’s very ironic that the government uses a transportation metaphor to describe itself when the entire transport sector is in shambles. We challenge the President, no less, to do something about this,” San Antonio added.

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