By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe backed the filing of graft charges, Monday, against Joseph Emilio Abaya, secretary of the former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and other officials from the previous administration over an allegedly anomalous deal with Metro Railway Transit 3 (MRT-3) maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI).
”It is high time that the ax falls where it should. The complaint filed against former Sec. Abaya and other officials over the P3.81-billion MRT maintenance contract rests on solid grounds,” Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said.
The Department of Transportation (DoTR) filed the charges Monday with the Office of the Ombudsman, alleging that Abaya and 10 other ex-DOTC officials violated Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act over the contract with BURI. Executives of the Filipino-Korean company were also included in the complaint.
Poe said she expects that the Ombudsman will find probable cause, and file the appropriate charges before the Sandiganbayan, citing her committee’s investigation last May which, she said, “has indubitably proved that the award to BURI was anomalous.”
“Dapat talagang managot sila sa kapabayaan at kapalpakan nila at panloloko sa taumbayan sa pagpapaniwalang gagaan ang mga pasanin ng pasahero sa pagkuha ng bagong maintenance provider. Isa itong anomalya na kung ipagpapatuloy pa ay masasayang lamang ang pera ng taumbayan at malalagay sa panganib ang buhay ng mga sumasakay sa MRT (They should be made to answer for all their negligence and failures, as well as their attempt to dupe the people that the burden of passengers will be greatly eased by taking in the new maintenance provider. This is an anomaly that, if it continues, will lead to the people’s waste of money while even putting their lives in danger each time they ride the MRT),” the senator said.
Poe said Abaya committed a “deplorable act” for not exercising due diligence in checking BURI’s capablity of providing MRT parts that were reliable.
BURI, she said, was “incompetent” for supplying “incompatible and unreliable parts” that put MRT commuters at risk.
She has been calling for the accountability of the DOTC officials for the frequent train breakdowns, saying earlier that most of her colleagues would support the filing of complaints against them.
“This should not have happened if Sec. Abaya and his men exercised due diligence in checking whether or not BURI was capable of handling such a huge responsibility and in ensuring the safety of the public. These deplorable acts should therefore not be countenanced nor tolerated,” she said.
“I do not know how these people who are involved are able to sleep at night knowing that many Filipinos have to wake up two to three hours earlier to line up at the MRT, with the sun glaring above their heads, just to suffer from train breakdowns during their commute,” she added.
Poe said the case should “deliver a stern warning” to public officials who should be made accountable for their misfeasance and malfeasance in office.
She also noted that this could be an opportunity for the Ombudsman to prove its independence in fighting corruption “in all levels, regardless of political affiliations, past and present.”
Tags: BURI, complaint filed, Department of Transportation and Communications, DOTC, Grace Poe, graft charges, Joseph Emilio Jun Abaya , Manila Bulletin, Poe backs filing of charges against former DOTC Sec. Abaya 10 others