MANILA – Nine former secretaries and three undersecretaries in the Aquino administration were charged with plunder Tuesday before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the MRT3 maintenance contract fiasco that is being blamed for much of the technical troubles plaguing the commuter train used by half a million people daily.
Included in the complaint filed by the Department of Transportation is Busan Universal Railway Inc. (BURI), the maintenance firm that replaced the MRT’s long-term contractor Sumitomo; and Marlo dela Cruz, the businessman who figured in the new contract and is described in some quarters as a political operator for the once-ruling Liberal Party.
Topping the list is former Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas II, who later became Interior secretary and then ran in the 2016 presidential elections under the LP.
In a radio interview, DOTr Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Rainier Yebra explained that the officials were impleaded because they were the ones who voted to approve the emergency procurement for the maintenance services in an interagency meeting. The officials are all members of the Government Procurement Policy Board.
Heading the list of those accused of plunder for the P60-million deal is former DOTC Secretary Roxas, his successor Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya; and former secretaries Florencio Abad of Budget and Management; Cesar Purisima of Finance; Rogelio Singson of Public Works; Jericho Petilla of Energy; Mario Montejo of Science and Technology; Voltaire Gazmin of Defense; Arsenio Balisacan of NEDA. Several of those charged, notably Roxas and Abaya, are LP members.
Three ex-DOTC undersecretaries – Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco and Catherine Gonzales – and then MRT general manager Roman Buenafe; and former bids and awards panel officials of DOTC were also included.
The DOTr recently revoked the maintenance contract with BURI, claiming repeated misrepresentation by the company which DOTr said had worsened the technical problems of the MRT.