MALACAÑANG yesterday welcomed the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to pursue graft charges against former Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya in connection with the controversial maintenance contract of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).
“It’s about time and we appreciate that,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The Ombudsman faulted Abaya and several officials of the then-Department of Transportation and Communications for awarding the contract to Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) even if the joint venture “was not technically, legally and financially capable” to implement the project.
According to the Ombudsman, Abaya, as head of the DOTC, should have exercised due diligence in ensuring that the MRT3’s maintenance contract would benefit the riding public.
The Duterte administration cancelled the contract with BURI in October last year.
Roque had earlier vowed to disclose more details about the alleged corruption involving the maintenance of the MRT which have been plagued by breakdowns and numerous glitches.
In March, Roque said two individuals previously involved in the MRT operations had come forward to shed light on the corrupt practices of a certain “Pangasinan Group.”
He said the group siphoned off two-thirds of the P4.2-billion contract with Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), leaving only a third for maintenance funds.
“Kung naaalala ninyo po kung hindi ito nakasuhan eh talagang isa-isa po naming ire-release iyong mga dokumento, pero since nandiyan na po ang desisyon ng Ombudsman, it’s about time po na magkaroon ng pananagutan lalo na doon sa mandarambong naman ng pondo para sa MRT,” Roque told reporters in Cagayan de Oro City.
He said he will make the whistleblowers “available now that charges have been filed.”
Abaya and others facing indictment may still appeal the Ombudsman’s findings.