Govt denies blacklisting Czech firm in MRT-3 bid

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Transport chief Joseph Emilio Abaya denies that his department blacklisted Czech firm Inekon from participating in the bidding for the supply of additional MRT-3 train cars

NO BLACKLISTING. Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya says the Czech firm eyeing to supply new train cars was not blacklisted for not giving in to extortion claims. File photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya denied a report that his department blacklisted Czech firm Inekon from participating in the bidding for the supply of additional Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) train cars.

In a statement on Friday, July 19, Abaya addressed reported allegations by a Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar in a Philippine Star piece that Inekon was barred from joining the auction after allegedly refusing to pay $30 million grease money to transport officials.  

“Inekon has not been blacklisted. There is no blacklist. There is simply no truth to the claim,” said Abaya.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda added that Abaya has met with the Czech ambassador 3 times since April and has encouraged the envoy to ask Inekon to participate in the bidding. 

“Inekon bought bid documents for that particular bid, but for one reason or another Inekon was not able to submit the bid,” Lacierda said. 

The P3.769 billion project involves the supply of 48 light rail vehicles (LRVs) to decongest the MRT-3, which carries 600,000 passengers a day. Its load limit is only 350,000 daily.

The existing 73 LRVs are Czech-made. The bidding for the 48 is the first phase of plans to add 70 coaches. 

The government considered two options — 2nd hand cars from Spain or brand new from Czech Republic. The plan for the 2nd hand coaches was scrapped afer the agency considered cost issues and timing of delivery.

On June 12, the DOTC announced that China state-owned firm Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. CNR Group qualified after its bid was found eligible to proceed to go through detailed evaluation and post-qualification exercises.

Transparent bidding

Abaya said that during the April meeting with Rychtar, the envoy raised concerns regarding the bid.

Abaya said he personally felt that “there was too strong a push for the Czech proposal, such that the allegations of irregularities were mixed with a business agenda.”

He added that the DOTC resorted to a more transparent bidding via a solicited mode to ensure a level playing field, openness, and transparency. The direct contracting mode was not pursued because it is not as transparent as an open bidding,” referring to Rychtar’s proposal.

“Opening the project to bidding erases doubts as to any favoritism. I personally felt that the Inekon proposal — which was never formally submitted to the DOTC and which amounted to around $3 Million per LRV — could make it appear that favors were being made,” Abaya added.

He said that the DOTC eventually settled with a $1.8 million price per LRV, “around $ 1.2 Million per LRV less than the indicative amount in the Inekon proposal.”

‘Show evidence’

Lacierda asked the Czech ambassador to “present us evidence and we will investigate.”

Abaya stressed that he has already initiated an investigation into the extortion claims.

“We at the DOTC express in the strongest possible terms our commitment to fight corruption at all levels…We are already investigating the matter, and welcome any other investigations into this issue,” he said.

Abaya also expressed support toward the transportation officials who were reportedly involved in the extortion claims.

“Having worked with the current DOTC Undersecretaries, Assistant Secretaries, and members of our Bids and Awards Committees, I vouch for their integrity and good work ethic,” he said.

He said found no need to replace the existing team when he assumed the transportation portfolio in 2012. –

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