Nine Cabinet officials of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd are facing plunder over the allegedly anomalous Metro Rail Transit-3 contract with maintenance service provider, Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI). GATHERED BY EIREENE GOMEZ FROM OFFICIAL DEPARTMENT/GOVT WEBSITES
THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) has filed a supplemental complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against several former Transportation officials, several former Cabinet members, and other individuals in connection with the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) maintenance service contract.
In a 64-page Supplemental Complaint-Affidavit, the DoTr accused the respondents of plunder, violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Named respondents were:
* Former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd;
* former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad;
* former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima;
* former Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla;
* former Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo;
* former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin;
* former Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson;
* former National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan;
* Marlo dela Cruz;
* former Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya;
* former Transportation undersecretaries Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco, and Catherine Gonzales;
* former MRT-3 General Manager Roman Buenafe;
* former Assistant Secretary Camille Alcaraz who was former Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairperson;
* former BAC Vice Chairman Ofelia Astrera;
* former BAC provisional members Charissa Eloisa Julia Opulencia, Oscar Bongon, and Jose Rodante Sabayle;
* former BAC member Maria Cecilia Natividad;
* Eldonn Ferdinand Uy, Elizabeth Velasco, Belinda Ong Tan, Brian Velasco, Chae-Gue Shim, Antonio Borromeo, Jun Ho Hwang, Elpidio Silvestre Uy, William dela Cruz, and Eugene Rapanut who were then from Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI).
The complainants were Transportation Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Procurement Reinier Paul Yebra, Director for Legal Services and Acting Assistant Secretary for Procurement Giovanni Lopez, and lawyer Mark Steven Pastor.
“For the past eight months, from the start of the contract of BURI, binayaran ho nila ang BURI…every month by P54 million. Wala hong deduction iyon despite unperformed service and undelivered spare parts. So for us that’s reason enough to hold them accountable for the crime of plunder,” Lopez alleged in an interview.
(For the past eight months, from the start of the contract of BURI, they paid BURI…every month by P54 million. That has no deduction despite unperformed service and undelivered spare parts. So for us that’s reason enough to hold them accountable for the crime of plunder.)
Sought for comment through text message, Abaya said:
“[A]s a former senior government official I know full well that public office is a public trust. This means even after leaving office, I cannot, and will not, shirk my duty to face official proceedings to inquire into my stewardship of DoTC.
“I am confident that any inquiry will show that any and all projects and agreements entered into during not only my stint but during the Aquino administration were done with full, rigorous compliance with the law, with honesty, and in the public interest. Both for myself and my [then-]subordinates, I am sure we will be vindicated by the record. My only regret is that much-needed improvements will once again be delayed or even reversed because of the current unfounded allegations.”
DoTC is the now defunct Department of Transportation and Communications.
Lawyer Charles Mercado, spokesperson of BURI, also said in a text message that “BURI has yet to receive a copy of the complaint. Nevertheless BURI is confident that it will be able to ad[d]ress and negate any charges against the company and its officials.”
On November 6, the DoTr terminated its contract with BURI.
The DoTr filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in October in connection with the now terminated contract against Abaya, Lopez, Limcaoco, Gonzales, Buenafe, Alcaraz, Astrera, Opulencia, Bongon, Sabayle, Natividad, Eldonn Ferdinand Uy, Elizabeth Velasco, Tan, Brian Velasco, Chae-Gue Shim, Borromeo, Jun Ho Hwang, Elpidio Silvestre Uy, William dela Cruz, and Rapanut as well as John Does and Jane Does.
In the complaint filed on October 23, Yebra accused the respondents of violating Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of the anti-graft law.
The DoTr alleged in part that “the Public Respondents allowed the implementation of the contract between DoTC and the Busan JV by BURI, which is not only a totally different entity, but a newly formed corporation lacking the required years of experience of at least fifteen (15) years of continuous experience from the submission of offer in the maintenance of railway system.”
Busan JV refers to the Busan Transportation Corporation, Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile, Inc., TMI Corp Inc., and Castan, Inc. Joint Venture.