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Poe: Complaint vs Abaya, others over MRT 'rests on solid grounds'

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of Senate committee on public services, said that maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc has showed its incompetence by risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of MRT commuters every day and deceiving the government and the public in trying to supply incompatible and unreliable parts to the MRT. photo from Sen. Grace Poe's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The graft charge against former Transportation chief Joseph Emilio Abaya and other officials, 'rests on solid grounds,' Sen. Grace Poe, who led a series of hearings on the state of the Metro Rail Transit, said.

"It is high time that the ax falls where it should," Poe said in a statement.

The chair of the Senate committee on public services added in Filipino that Abaya and others "should be held accountable for their being negligent and deceiving the public for making them believe that getting a new maintenance provider would lessen the burden of commuters.”

In a complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman Monday, the Department of Transportation accused Abaya along with 10 former Transportation officials and 10 incorporators of Busan Universal Rail Inc for violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

DOTr called the contract “anomalous and questionable.”

It alleged that Abaya and other officials conspired in awarding the maintenance deal to BURI despite the company’s failure to present a joint venture agreement (JVA) executed between parties in violation of the provisions of Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act.

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The complaint said BURI’s failure to carry out the project was apparent with the frequent Metro Rail Transit-3 service interruptions due to technical glitches supposedly caused by poor maintenance.

READAbaya, 10 others sued by DOTr over MRT deal

Poe said that BURI has shown its incompetence by risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of MRT commuters every day and deceiving the government and the public in trying to supply incompatible and unreliable parts for the MRT's trains.

“This should not have happened if Secretary 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,” Poe said.

In a statement, Abaya said he is looking forward to clearing his name before any appropriate body.

“Our decision has always been guided by our conscience and our compliance with procurement laws and laws with regard to the procurement of the maintenance provider,” he said.

Last week, the government notified BURI that it would terminate the firm’s contract due to service interruptions in the railway system.

Challenge to ombudsman

Poe is expecting the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate and file appropriate charges against those involved in awarding the contract.

“This is another opportunity for the Ombudsman to show its independence and resolve to fight corruption in all levels, regardless of political affiliations, past and present,” she said.

The senator also said this should serve as a stern warning and reminder that public officials will have to be made accountable for misfeasance and malfeasance in office. 

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