MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday, June 26, said it plans to pursue plunder charges against former transportation officials tagged in the P4.2-billion Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) maintenance contract.
In a statement on Tuesday, Transportation Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Procurement Reinier Paul Yebra said they will consult with the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) on the matter.
The pronouncement came after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales indicted former transportation secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya for graft, for allegedly giving “unwarranted benefits, advantage, and preference” over the maintenance contract awarded to Busan Universal Rail Incorporated (BURI).
“The DOTr will consult with the Office of the Solicitor General as it intends to pursue plunder charges against the indicted personalities, as well as include in the case other officials and personalities exculpated from the Resolution, in efforts to promote accountability and transparency,” Yebra said.
The Office of the Ombudsman cleared former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, former budget secretary Florencio “Butch” 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 and highways secretary Rogelio Singson, and former socioeconomic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
The DOTr also filed a similar plunder complaint tagging Abaya and other Aquino Cabinet secretaries in November 2017, but this was later junked by the Ombudsman.
The Office of the Ombudsman has the original jurisdiction over plunder cases.
“We assure the public that the DOTr will get to the bottom of these anomalous contracts, and go after the people who sacrificed the welfare of MRT3 riders in the name of personal interests,” Yebra said.
In November 2017, the DOTr terminated its contract with BURI, and formed the MRT3 Maintenance Transition Team to temporarily take over. A new company has yet to be chosen.
Since the year started, the MRT3 has broken down 59 times and experienced a record low of 6 running trains back in February. Ridership was cut to around 200,000 from the average daily ridership of 463,000 in 2017. – Rappler.com