Tuesday 25 September, 2018
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Sumabit rin! Ombudsman finds probable cause to charge Jun Abaya with graft over P4.2B MRT deal

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By John Carlo Cahinhinan

MANILA – The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended the filing of graft charges against former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya in connection with anomalous Php 4.2-billion maintenance contract of the Metro Rail Transit – Line 3 (MRT-3).

In a resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found probable cause to indict Abaya and 16 others for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) for awarding the maintenance contract to Busan Joint Venture despite being “not technically, legally and financially capable.”

Abaya and several other ex-officials of the then Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) were accused of conspiring to award the contract to Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI) which is part of the Busan Joint Venture.

The Special Panel of Investigators found that respondents “extended unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference” to the contractor BURI which is part of the Busan Joint Venture despite being “an ineligible and unqualified entity. “

“By allowing the award of the contract to the Busan JV despite the attendant glaring irregularities, Abaya deliberately ignored applicable laws, rules and regulations, and standard operating procedures, falling short of or disregarding the required competence expected of him in the performance of his official functions,” the resolution read.

Also indicted were former DOTr Undersecretaries Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco (Head of the Negotiating Team) and Catherine Jennifer Francis Gonzales (Vice-Head, Negotiating Team); former MRT3 General Manager Roman Buenafe, former Assistant Secretary for Procurement Camille Alcaraz, Ofelia Astrera (Vice-Chairperson, MRT3 Bids and Awards Committee), Atty. Charissa Eloisa Julia Opulencia, and Engineers Oscar Bongon (Chief, Engineering Division) and Jose Rodante Sabayle.

Meanwhile, private respondents include Eldonn Ferdinand Uy of Edison Development and Construction, Elizabeth Velasco of Tramat Mercantile Incorporated, Belinda Tan of TMI Corporation, Inc., Brian Velasco of Castan Corporation, and Antonio Borromeo, Jun Ho Hwang and Elpidio Uy from BURI.

Last year, the Duterte Administration cancelled the contract with the Busan Joint Venture due to daily glitches hounding the trains of MRT-3.

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