• Roxas, Abaya equally liable for MRT mess

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    INTERIOR Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd should be made to answer for the problems now besetting the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3because it was during his time as Transportation secretary when negotiations for various procurement contracts were done.

    “[Now Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio] Abaya is just Mar’s ‘yes’ man,” a former official of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) who left the agency for a better job in the private sector told The Manila Times.

    The source’s disclosure came as militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)
    assailed an Office of the Ombudsman resolution clearing top DOTC officials of any wrongdoing in an allegedly anomalous maintenance contract between the agency and PH Trams Corp.

    Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said the initial probe conducted by the Ombudsman Field Investigation Office (FIO) included 21 respondents, including the DOTC secretary, the entire Bids and Awards Committee [BAC] that included Undersecretaries Jose Lotilla, Rene Limcaoco and Raphael Santos, as well as the entire DOTC Negotiating Team that dealt with PH Trams.

    “Now lo and behold, only one government official has been charged. Only former MRT GM [General manager] Al Vitangcol is being made accountable as a member of the BAC and as end-user of the contract. Either Vitangcol is genius scammer able to pull off the multimillion-dollar deal without the knowledge of the entire DOTC, or DOTC officials are just hopelessly incompetent,” Reyes added.

    The Ombudsman cleared Abaya because he was appointed just two days earlier when he signed the contract as head of the DOTC.

    “If the Ombudsman is saying that Abaya was new to the DOTC and therefore did not know that the contract was anomalous, why not investigate Mar Roxas who was DOTC secretary when the contract was negotiated? Is it only mere coincidence that two of Vitangcol’s co-accused have links to the Liberal Party headed by Roxas and Abaya?” the Bayan leader asked.

    According to The Manila Times source, there had been offers from the private sector, particularly from the Metro Pacific Group of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, for them to take over operations of MRT 3 but all were rejected.

    “Ang sabi ni PNoy at Mar, papayamanin pa ba natin sila [President Aquino and Roxas said, ‘Why do we have to make them rich’]?” the source said.

    The former DOTC official added that Roxas was apprehensive about the entry of Pangilinan’s group and was “cautious” that reports of corruption in the past administration might continue.

    “It was Roxas’ mistake. He lacked foresight due to their fears of [former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria [Macapagal-]Arroyo. He imposed his own plans that eventually resulted in this mess,” the source said.

    In a previous interview, Abaya himself admitted that the only issue that was raised by Roxas against the role of the private sector “is that the buy-out might tend to give a whitewash of the sins of the past.”

    “We will make sure that it won’t happen again,” he said.

    Subhead: No ‘sacred cows’
    Also on Monday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there are no sacred cows or “untouchable” officials in the Aquino government and that anyone who may be found to be involved in various anomalies should face the law.

    “There is no concept of ‘untouchable.’ The filing of cases from the DOJ [Department of Justice] and the executive are based on evidence. The Ombudsman is a separate and independent constitutional body,” Coloma pointed out.

    For Bayan’s Reyes, the clearing of Abaya and other top DOTC officials was “one for Ripley’s.”

    “Why clear the other members of the BAC including chairman Lotilla when it was the BAC that issued the resolution for a negotiated contract with an interim maintenance provider after the extended contract of the previous maintenance provider was set to expire?… The questionable maintenance deal could not have been accomplished without the knowledge of the top DOTC officials, including the department secretary and the Bids and Awards Committee,” he said.

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    16 Comments

    1. “Ang sabi ni PNoy at Mar, papayamanin pa ba natin sila (MPIC)?” Kulang lang: “Dapat atin iyon.”

      There were long-term plans in place already for the MRT from Metro Pacific, but Aquino and Roxas just had to have a piece of the pie, if not the whole pie. Does this sound like the statement of a President who has the country’s interest in mind? He doesn’t like the idea of someone getting rich while improving the MRT, yet here we are, stuck with a rotten MRT and to add insult to injury, a fare increase. At least MPIC would not only have repaired the MRT but would have upgraded it and increased the passenger capacity using trains from Korea or Japan, not deathtraps from China that still have to be converted.

    2. The multi-billion peso MRT-LRT scandan is intentional and pre-meditated since Mar Roxas took over as DOTC secretary and his recommendation of Jun Abaya as his successor at DOTC. The motive is to create one of the mega-source of Roxas campaign fund for his 2016 ambitious plan to become a president. This includes the bribing of witnesses against his rival opposition presidential candidate VP Binay.

    3. christinetan on

      ““There is no concept of ‘untouchable.’ The filing of cases from the DOJ [Department of Justice] and the executive are based on evidence. The Ombudsman is a separate and independent constitutional body,” Coloma pointed out.” … Coloma must be told that “untouchable” or selective justice is actually NOT A CONCEPT BUT AN ACTUAL PRACTICE of Pnoy’s Admin. Buhol-buhol na ang salita ni Coloma.

    4. if I were a Manila Times reporter, I would be hunting down Vitangcol for an exclusive interview— before some people hide him from view.

      • Yanie Heartbreaker on

        I’m pretty sure Vitangcol is part of the moro-moro. Why is the charge only graft when the amount involved is enough for plunder? Because with a plunder charge, Vitangcol would have to be detained. Eventually he will be acquitted.
        So why was Abaya not included? Because he would have to testify, and if he does that, he would be forced to admit that it was Mar Roxas who negotiated the deal with PH Trams. So Malacanang – who thinks quoting PolSci 101 will make us believe they are not influencing the Ombudsman – wants to make sure Abaya doesn’t testify.

      • Wondering why Ombudsman Carpio-Morales charged Vitangcol with a simple graft instead of plunder?

    5. di ba kasalan ni GMA? Paki tanong kay PeNoy. Si Mar at pABAYA walang kasalanan yan.

    6. apolonio reyes on

      Dapat plunder at hindi graft ang kinaso kila Al Vitangol et al pagka’t yuon kontrata ay $1.5M/mo o P792M / year. Di ba mahigit ito sa P50M limit para Plunder ang ikaso Asst. Ombudsman Rafanan?

      • They probably can’t find evidence that Roxas, et. al. amassed ill gotten wealth from the transaction. Unless may Clarissa Ocampo type na magwi-witness na tumanggap ng kickback sina Mar, there’s no case for plunder kahit pa lampas ng P50 M. Graft lang, because they negotiated and entered into a contract that is grossly disadvantageous to the government,

    7. Mar Roxas and Abaya is exactly the problem why the MRT is in this deteriorating situation today. Roxas and Abaya will deny,deny and will point fingers to the ones below them and obviously will not take full responsibility of their actions! Roxas and Aquino’s mindset has always been Vindictiveness from the very start of their governance. They cannot hide anymore from the good people of the Philippines. What a Train wreck!

    8. Yes, indeed. Why the preferred treatment for Roxas, Abaya and the entire DOTC BAC? Whoever did the evaluation of Bids, did the Post Qualification Evaluation, issued the Award and Notice to Proceed must be charged. If they are exempted by design by that septuagenerian of an Ombudsman, (what is her name again? is it Conchita Morales?), they who are intentionally overlooked today must be impleaded in July, 2016. And include Morales. Never mind if she is on the sunset side of her life. Otherwise, we will never grow up as nation.

      And you Coloma from Abra, zip your mouth. You always talk a lot of nonsense.

    9. It is only in the mouth of the Malacanang officials that there is no sacred cows or untouchable in the LP members or officials. These actions is all related to 2016 elections. Their presidential candidate is so weak that they need the support of those LP officials/members. If they will be charged, don’t you think they will support them? It is very clear in the water that will do everything just to win the Malacanang for them to spare from prosecution come 2016.

    10. extract from rappler.com:
      “Kahit kelan, kahit papaano, hinding-hindi po ako sasama sa hindi daang matuwid, doon po ako sa daang matuwid, sa malinis, sa walang mantya, walang bahid ng kahit anong corruption doon sa kanilang pagseserbisyo,” Roxas told reporters on Friday, April 10, in Dagupan City,”
      Was that you Mr. Roxas?

    11. If the surnames of those involve in this scam were Binay, Estrada, Enrile or Revilla, warrant of arrest will be issued and plunder shall be the indictment.

    12. Of course Mar and Emilio are as guilty as Vitangcol. The present difference is that Mar and Emilio are top LP and administration honchos while Al is already out.