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6 DOTC execs face graft raps

MANILA, Philippines - Six officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) are facing graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in bidding anomalies in connection with the multibillion-peso Road Transportation Information Technology Infrastructure Project (RTITIP) for the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

DOTC Undersecretaries Rene Limcaoco and Jose Perpetuo Lotilla; Assistant Secretaries Ildefonso Patdu Jr., Dante Lantin and Catherine Jennifer Gonzales; and LTO director Alfonso Tan were accused of violating the Government Procurement Reform Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

It was the first graft complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman for this year.

In an 80-page complaint, Leon Estrella Peralta, representing the anti-graft watchdog Anti-Trapo Movement of the Philippines Inc., said the respondents, along with several John Does, manipulated the bidding process in favor of Stradcom Corp., LTO’s IT provider since 1998.

Peralta said the DOTC officials “strayed far, far away” from President Aquino’s “daang matuwid” by going around Malacañang’s call for absolute transparency in the procurement process.

He said the DOTC officials are pushing for an extension of Stradcom Corp.’s contract by causing a failure of bidding and make it impossible for a new IT provider to take over when the firm’s contract expires on Feb. 11. 

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The anti-graft watchdog said the bids and awards committee also illegally charged P1 million each for the bid documents in violation of the P75,000 prescribed rate set by the Government Procurement Policy Board and procurement laws.

Limcaoco is also being accused of meeting with Stradcom Corp. officials outside the DOTC premises and beyond office hours before the opening of bids last Nov. 26.

Transparancy International said Limcaoco even submitted a P1.3-billion budget proposal for the implementation of the RTITIP project on the first year when the required budget was P3.105 billion.

“All these taken altogether and combined with other acts, from the start, the bidding process was designed for the procurement process to fail,“ Peralta said.

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