Ex-DOTC execs may face ‘new cases’ over MRT-3 mess

Chinese engineers install a brand-new MRT coach at the Pasay-EDSA MRT station on Sunday January 17. In an interview, Secretary Emilio Abaya disclosed that several coaches are due for shipment from China in May this year. JAIL JACINTO / NorthboundPH


MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday said that new cases may be filed against former officials of the now defunct Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) over the problems hounding the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3).

“There could be other new ones (cases),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing, adding that short and long-term goals for the MRT-3 were discussed during a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Roque said these “new cases” would be separate from the plunder charges filed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) against the ex-DOTC officials filed last November 2017.

He noted that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has designated Solicitor General Jose Calida to “look further” into the matter.

“There was a decision that cases will be pursued for those behind the miserable performance of MRT-3,” Roque said.

“They are pending complaints for plunder against officials of the previous administration specifically for awarding the maintenance contract to a company with absolutely no track record,” he added.

Roque was referring to ex-DOTC officials during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III including Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and DOTC Secretary Joseph “Jun” Abaya.

“This is for the award of the contract to a company with absolutely no track record; a company that was obligated to repair 26 coaches and they only delivered 2; and they even supplied the wrong signaling system,” Roque said.

In the 64-page complaint filed by the DOTr before the Office of the Ombudsman, Roxas and Abaya were accused of using the MRT-3 maintenance program as a “cash cow”.

“(They) set into motion a grand scheme of turning the DOTC as a bottomless cash cow, entering into one anomalous procurement project after the other, in order to amass, accumulate and acquire ill-gotten wealth by taking advantage of their official position, authority and influence to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people,” the complaint read.

The complaint alleged that Roxas and other Liberal Party stalwarts “eased out” Sumitomo Corp. and “replaced it with their own dummy corporations”.

The complaint noted that a day after Abaya replaced Roxas as DOTC chief, he awarded the PHP 517.5-million MRT maintenance contract to PH Trams-CB&T.

According to the complaint, this was the start of the “rapid deterioration of MRT’s trains, tracks, signaling, power supply and stations”.

Aside from making sure the ex-DOTC officials were held accountable, Roque said that the government is also taking steps to procure spare parts and rehire Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation as MRT-3 maintenance provider.

Sumitomo is the Japanese maintenance contractor that designed, built and maintained the MRT-3 system for 12 years or until 2012 without major glitches

“Accountability is part of the solution. Government has taken steps, while it is currently operating the MRT to procure much needed spare parts and they have taken steps now to enter into a contract with Sumitomo to be the maintenance provider as well, and this has been facilitated by the signing of an agreement between the governments of the Republic of the Philippines and Japan,” Roque said.

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