MALACANANG dismissed Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s claim that the Duterte administration was using officials of the previous leadership as a “scapegoat” for its shortcomings following the filing of cases against former government executives over the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) mess.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Robredo’s remarks were “unfortunate,” as he stressed that “the MRT-3 issue is not about covering up shortcomings.”
“The Administration has faced the MRT-3 mess squarely. The President has even apologized over a recent train mishap and transport officials admitted that while they cannot solve the problems overnight they are working double time to restore the convenience and reliability of the MRT-3 by getting a proven maintenance firm and buying needed parts,” Roque said.
“However, we cannot deny the fact that these are cumulative problems that the Administration inherited and the long-suffering commuters of Metro Manila have known for years how the past government destroyed the MRT,” he added.
The Palace official noted that the filing of the plunder complaint against officials of the previous administration “was to make them accountable.”
“These officials facilitated the negotiated procurement of long-term maintenance contracts to BURI, which per the Supplemental Complaint Affidavit filed by the DOTr, ‘turned the DOTC as a bottomless cash cow entering into one anomalous procurement project,'” Roque said.
“We cannot simply sweep the sins of incompetence and corruption under the rug with the harsh reality of half a million daily suffering riding public staring us in the face,” he added.
Robredo, during a media interview in Caloocan City on Thursday, said that the Duterte administration should not use former officials during the Aquino government to draw attention away from its failures.
“Ako, mahirap magparatang, pero sa akin, kapag may nagkasala, tama lamang na sampahan ng kaso. Iyong atin lang ninanais, sana iyong pagsampa ng kaso ay base sa datos na maayos. Hindi siya ginagawang dahilan para lang maghanap ng scapegoat para sa mga bagay na hindi nagagawa (For me it’s hard to just accuse, but if someone has committed wrongdoings, it’s just right to file a case against him. But what we want is they file a case based on relevant data and solid evidence. It should not be used just to find a scapegoat for the things they are unable to do),” Robredo told reporters.
The Vice President, an ally of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, however, refused to speculate on whether the recent filing of charges against officials of the Aquino administration was enough reason to say that the Duterte administration is cracking down on members of the opposition.
“Dapat kung mag-file ng kaso, ito ay base sa ebidensya, na mayroon talagang pagkakasala na ginawa. Ang nakakatakot lang, baka ginagawa ito para magpasa ng blame sa iba. Ito iyong dapat hindi pinapayagan (When you file a case, it must be based on evidence, that there’s really offense committed. But what’s alarming here is that they’re maybe doing this to put the blame to others. We should not allow that),” she said.
Last week, the Department of Transportation (DOTr)filed charges against nine Cabinet secretaries of the Aquino administration, other officials and individuals for alleged plunder and graft for their supposed roles in anomalous transactions relating to the maintenance service contracts of the MRT-3.
Among those charged were former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, former Budget secretary Florencio Abad, former Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, former Finance secretary Cesar Purisima and former MRT General Manager Roman Buenafe.
Robredo heads the Liberal Party, which counts Roxas, Abaya and Abad among its stalwarts.