A tangled web of deceit


What section of the Aquino bureaucracy is unblemished by integrity and competence and where corruption and illegal deals have been the dominant narrative? Easy to answer—the MRT 3 in particular and the railway system in general. The top story of the Manila Times on July 28, written by Chairman Emeritus Dante A. Ang, on a P140 million bribe allegedly received by a power player in the Aquino administration from train supplier Inekon, was just one in the collection of shady deals so far piled up by the MRT 3.

Who pocketed the P140 million? No one in authority seems to be interested in finding out? Why are the integrity jihadists in the Aquino administration suddenly limp and wimpy on the corruption issues that relate to the MRT 3? The intensity of purpose that has been dedicated to the inquiry of the pork barrel scam to jail and humiliate members of Congress, from prominent senators and obscure congressmen, does not apparently apply to the morass of corruption and incompetence that is the MRT 3.

Meanwhile, journalists cannot seem to encounter a single MRT 3 issue that is beyond suspicion, that is without a dark and shady side. Take the case of the MRT’s planned acquisition of 48 trains worth P4.5 billion from Dalian Locomotive, a China-based supplier. On the surface, this is a ro utine thing. The beaten-up, breakdown-prone trains of the MRT 3 require the acquisition of new replacement trains. But the acquisition plan is not without a legal baggage.

Malacañang originally boasted that the MRT modernization would be funded by the DAP. The P4.5 billion train purchase fund was part of the 114 priority projects worth more than P140 billion that DAP would bankroll, according to the Palace itself. The 2013 bidding held to pick the supplier was premised on the availability of DAP money to pay the chosen supplier, Dalian.

The SC ruling on the unconstitutionality of the DAP turned everything upside down. After the ruling, the Palace came out with all sorts of knee-jerk reactions, including the declaration that the acquisition of new trains for the MRT 3 was not even part of the 114 pet projects of the Aquino administration that the outlawed DAP would have funded.

With the DAP declared unconstitutional and with the MRT train acquisition declared as a non-priority project, there was absolutely no funding source for the MRT train supply contract won by Dalian. Until, recently, when the DOTC, using twisted logic, had a new spin to the funding story: the 2014 General Appropriations Act would fund the train purchase. The DOTC even announced a delivery date for the 48 trains from Dalian.

How was that again? How can a 2013 bidding that was premised on the availability of DAP money, be funded by the 2014 GAA? Can funding a declared non-priority project be that flexible? Can you just move money around and change the funding source at whim? Every bid , whether for an infra project or for a supply contract, is anchored on the availability of funds.

Funding a supply contract awarded in 2013 on the premise that there was money for it in 2013 with money from the 2014 GAA is just as illegal as the DAP. It can’t be done, unless one invokes legal mumbo jumbo to cover that up.

Or, unless some top Aquino people intends to shaft the public again with the reckless jugging of public funds and funding sources.

The bid on the train supply was illegal in the first place, according to legal experts. The DOTC cannot select a train supplier because, technically, the MRT 3 is still under the private operator, the MRTC. Until the government gets 100 percent of the MRT shares, every important decision has to be made by the private owners.

The Commission on Audit (COA) also questioned the DOTC’s plan to use P4.5 billion in government money to buy new trains for the EDSA MRT. The DOTC embarked on the purchase plan without fulfilling two requirements, a cost benefit analysis and a detailed program of work. The purchase plan may not be in sync with overall government procurement rules, according to a COA audit report.

The MRT 3 maintenance and operations contract ( M&O) is set to expire this month and the genesis of the contract is as shadowy as the funding source for the Dalian-supplied trains. APT Global, the current contractor, was given an interim M&O contract after the consortium given the award in 2012—PH Trams—turned out to be a corporation founded by the uncle in law of fired MRT head Al Vitangcol. But the cronyism story did not end with the exit of PH Trams.

APT Global‘s contract to do the M&O for MRT 3 was signed by, remember this name—Mario de la Cruz—who happens to be one of the principals of the crony firm PH Trams. The usual tangled web of deceit. Is APT Global an adjunct of the crony firm PH Trams? Your guess is as good as mine. Either the DOTC people did not bother to check on who the principals of the APT Global are or was part of the conspiracy to perpetrate a brazen case of crony capitalism.

APT has gone into bigger things, mind you. It is one of the listed bidders for a P1.3 billion M&O contract for LRT 2 that the DOTC will award soon.

There is a chance, a real chance, that the crony firm APT Global, may win the billion peso contract, given the corrupt and bizarre state of affairs at the country’s premier rail system.


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  1. Ex-Ambivalent on

    I don’t see anything wrong, in principle, with funding a project in 2014 that couldn’t get funding in 2013. That said, buying trains for a private company is just like paving roads for a private subdivision.

    We need more specific exposés like this (subject to investigation) and less blunt-force anti-administration tirades with qualified phrases like “imply” and “must be.”

  2. There is no way that a general manager of MRT3 and Dotc secretary to bid and award the supply and delivery of additional trains without the knowledge of the Palace. Any contract with a magnitude of 50 million pesos need to be approved by the Palace. The president brother in laws are the guys behind every govt dealings.

  3. Please continue to expose this to the end and you will rewarded with truth on the corruption and anomaly in this administration that the Filipino people would be grateful to you as a columnist who have done your piece to the journalism profession and to the nations welfare.
    I personally privy to APT Global Marlo de la Cruz and Wilson de Vera. De la Cruz is a mere “runner”, “tig” or “alalay ” in its real sense of Wilson de Vera. I suggest you look into his Income Tax Return and you will find out “nothing” that he can be a corporate honcho for a hundred million-contracts. He married from Valenccia, Bukidnon and ran there as a mediocre congressional candidate in 2010 where he can not even afford campaign posters. Wilson de Vera ran as board member in 2010 in Pangasinan and as mayor of Calasiao in 2013 just for a show and be “close and acquainted” with LP’s political bigwigs. He was a congenital name-dropper ang liar and was able to be known to DOTC Abaya, Ballsy and Mar Roxas, where he was able to get some campaign funds but still losing the elections.

  4. Corruption, corruption, corruption, & this country wonders why its the laughing stock of the world. The philippines loves to see filipinos in any activity as world class, well where they are as world class as most 3rd world african coutries is in corruption. They cant see that is a huge part in the decline of the philippines from once being the leader in asia is now the tail wagging the dog in asia. The average filipino couldnt careless about it, they have other things on their mind. They know they are mostly happy as they have their faith in god to fall back on & that is another huge reason of the failing of the philippines. They all need to listen to & understand the teachings of richard dawkins.

  5. muriel magtanggol on

    Thank you for exposing those idiotic robbers!mabuhay kayo! I hope our countrymen will do something if our inutile Congress won’t. Dissolve Congress too!

  6. Good question: Who got the P140,000,000? We thought this Administration is bent in curving corruption. There’s corruption everwhere!!!! It has more corruption in 4 years compared to the first 4 years of GMA (still to be proven though).

  7. It is indeed very sad that the Philippines is ravaged by social cancers as Rizal said that killed him. Even the “Matuwid na Daan” are just words and riddled with corruptions and plundering. President PNoy abetted and enabled pluderers via DAP and PDAF. He should know that!

    The Philippines is in a dire need of Waking Up and Reform, beginning with Presindent PNoy.