Abaya’s Christmas scam to the Philippines
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2015 - 9:00am

“Mabuti pa ang linta kusang bumibitaw kapag nabusog,” the Tagalogs say about the insatiable. “Better is the leech that lets go upon having its fill.”

At the MRT-3 it’s now three years, two months, and three days since the P10.07-billion plunder began. No shame, no remorse, no letup by Transport Sec. and Liberal Party president Joseph Abaya. Abetting by President Aquino and the Ombudsman breeds impunity.

Updates on the plunder:

(1) P3.85-billion trains from China. Contrary to Abaya’s promise, P-Noy might not get to ride any of 48 light rail vehicles (coaches) ordered from Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corp. None would be finished by end of his term.

Remember the prototype LRV delivered to Manila in Aug. without – ta-da! – an engine? When exposed in this space, Abaya blurted that he separately was buying the traction motor from Germany. Really? That set off three more exposés: (a) The prototype, because engineless, had not been test-run for 5,000 km at Dalian’s factory, a breach of contract, (b) Compatibility is iffy among the Chinese LRVs, German engines, and signaling system from Korea, and (c) With DOTC to buy, install, and test-run the engines by itself, Dalian would save P2 billion on all 48 indented LRVs, so where’s that money going?

To pull off the crime, Abaya devised a cover-up. He is diverting the traction motors for two more prototypes straight from Germany to China, no longer to Manila. That’s so no one would see and leak to the press any more of his hanky-panky. Last week he dispatched DOTC trusties to Dalian to tell them of the new arrangement.

As in all crimes, there’s a hitch. Instead of Dec. 2015, delivery of the German engines is delayed at least two months. So those two additional prototypes – motorized and faintly tested this time for automatic brakes, doors, and other electronics-electricals-mechanicals – won’t be arriving in Manila till another three months. As for the first shell already in town, Abaya is still figuring out how to fit it with a German motor, then test-run for 5,000 km on MRT-3’s dilapidated tracks.

Even if the LRVs arrive by June, the Presidential Security Group is unlikely to let P-Noy test-ride. They’d have to make Abaya do it first, like the food-taster before P-Noy dines. What if Abaya refuses? The trains would be unsafe, since Dalian doesn’t really make LRVs, only engineless passenger and cargo cars pulled by a locomotive; it shouldn’t have been contracted at all.

(2) Simpler, cheaper if refurbished? Abaya continually rebuffed since 2012 a US trader’s offer of 48 refurbished LRVs. The Pennsylvania firm’s Siemens trains are in California, for quick check. Unit price: $395,00, only 22 percent of Dalian’s overpriced $1.8 million per coach.

The LRVs are well matched with the 54 remaining of MRT-3’s 73 original LRVs. Supplied in 1999, those originals were made by the Czech Republic’s CKD Tatra, later bought by Siemens. Then Siemens spun off its heavy equipment division, which Czech-owned Inekon Corp. bought.

That’s why Inekon in 2008 offered to supply DOTC 59 new LRVs, refurbish the 73 old ones, and maintain the combined fleet for five years. The DBM earmarked P4.5 billion for it in 2012-2013. But then came the attempted extortion from visiting Inekon execs in July 2012.

(3) Justice dims vs swindlers. One alleged extortionist, Abaya’s LP-mate Wilson de Vera, has fled the country. Pinpointed too were LP fundraiser Marlo dela Cruz and then-MRT-3 GM Al S. Vitangcol. Witnesses: Czech Amb. Josef Rychtar and “facilitator” Manolo Maralit. Purportedly demanded from Inekon CEO Josef Husek was $30 million (P1.5 billion) for approval of the purchase of new and upgrade of old LRVs. Inekon was arm-twisted too to partner with a firm to be formed by Vitangcol’s uncle, to bag the maintenance side. The Czechs refused.

A month later at the SEC was registered PH Trams. Directors were dela Cruz (chairman), de Vera, Maralit, DOF executive Federico Remo, and Vitangcol uncle-in-law Arturo Soriano. In two more months, Vitangcol granted them $1.15 million-a-month maintenance of MRT-3.

Only in Nov. 2015 were they indicted for graft. Only Vitangcol has posted bail. No arrest of LP members has ever happened under P-Noy.

The Ombudsman absolved main signatory Abaya, despite his extending thrice PH Trams’ original contract, then bringing in dela Cruz’s other front, Global Epcom, till Jan. 4, 2016. Abaya has paid PH Trams and Global Epcom P1.85-billion in all as of July 2015.

(4) Date set for P4.25-billion scam. For the fourth time, a date is being set for Abaya’s latest scam. This is for a P4.25-billion deal made from secret negotiations instead of public bidding. The big day is on Wed., Dec. 23, and the contract is to commence on Jan. 5, 2016. The documents readily are available, yet like in all MRT-3 scams the Ombudsman is doing nothing.

Abaya has kept delaying the award, due to constant exposés in this column. It was first set for Oct., then Nov. then last Dec. 15. Abaya sent a separate team to Korea last week to inform Busan Railways, the winner of the shady deal, of the final date.

Dec. 23 is best because the last working day before Filipinos go on Christmas break. By sad habit, nobody raises a howl on that day against plunderers, only pickpockets.

The deal consists of three-year maintenance of MRT-3, overhaul of the 54 remnant LRVs, and a new signaling. Partnering with Busan as supposed 60-percent financiers are unknown Filipino firms. As already bared, those firms are into anything but railways – rice trading, general merchandising, plumbing. Abaya’s LP-mates are using them as fronts.

*      *      *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with