The Office of the Ombudsman has reversed its June 28 decision indicting ex-Department of Transportation and Communications chief Joseph Emilio Abaya and his personnel for graft complaints in connection with the Metro Rail Transit line 3’s P4.5-billion maintenance deal with the South Korean firm Busan Universal Rail Inc.
In a 51-page resolution, the Ombudsman absolved Abaya; ex-undersecretaries Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco and Catherine Jennifer Gonzales; ex-MRT3 general manager Roman Buenafe; ex-assistant secretary Camille Alcaraz; ex-MRT3 bids and awards committee vice chairperson Ofelia Astrera; lawyer Charissa Eloisa Opulencia; ex-engineering division chief Oscar Bongon, and engineer Jose Rodante Sabayle.
Also cleared were private respondents Eldonn Ferdinand Uy of Edison Development and Construction; Elizabeth Velasco of Tramat Mercantile Inc.; Belinda Tan of TMI Corp.Inc.; Brian Velasco of Castan Corp., and Antonio Borromeo, Jun Ho Hwang and Elpidio Uy of BURI.
The anti-graft court said Busanra JV/BURI had already been penalized for the problems arising from the project implementation through the deduction in their payments under the contract and subsequently, pre-termination of the contract.
“The problems hounding the MRT-3 operations appear to be in the implementation stage of the long term maintenance contract, involving issues that were not present during the screening, negotiation and bidding process thereof,” the decision read.
“Considering the scope of the allegations in the complaints focused only on respondents’ acts during the procurement process for the MRT-3 long term maintenance contract which appears to be above board, this Office has no recourse except to reconsider its finding of probable cause against said respondents and dismiss the complaints against them.”
MRT3 terminated its maintenance contract with BURI in November 2017.
The Ombudsman upheld its May 2018 decision junking the graft, plunder and violation of procurement law charges against ranking officials of the Aquino administration Manuel Roxas, Florencio Abad, Cesar Purisima, Jericho Petilla, Mario Montejo, Voltaire Gazmin, Rogelio Singson, Arsenio Balisacan, Maria Cecila Natividad, Chae-Gue Shum, William dela Cruz, Eugene Rapanut and Mario dela Cruz in line with the same MRT3 maintenance deal.