SENATOR Grace Poe on Sunday said Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya should also be included in the filing of criminal charges against those involved in the anomalous maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit.
As chairwoman of the Senate sub-committee on transportation, Poe had recommended the filing of charges against former MRT-3 general manager Al Vitangcol III and five others, but expressed disappointment that top Transportation officials were spared.
Poe, who led the inquiry into the sorry state of the MRT, said she believed the highest officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications should also be held liable.
The Ombudsman’s Fact Investigating Office initially included Abaya and other transportation officials in the graft probe, but the Ombudsman said it did not find probable cause to charge Abaya during the preliminary investigation.
“Since Secretary Abaya signed and approved the contract, I am a little bit surprised that he doesn’t have liabilities whatsoever,” said Poe. “In any case, I hope this serves as a warning to government officials that corrupt practices and illegal motives will not be condoned.”
The Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges against Vitangcol before the Sandiganbayan after finding probable cause that he conspired with PH Trams incorporators for the awarding of the $11.5-million maintenance contract without public bidding. Five PH Trams executives were also charged.
The 39-page resolution stated that Vitangcol acted in “evident bad faith, manifest partiality, or gross inexcusable negligence” to give the unwarranted advantage to PH Trams and joint venture partner Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corp.
Vitangcol’s uncle-in-law was an executive at PH Trams, a fact that would have automatically disqualified the company from participating in the bidding.
“Moving forward, this should be a compelling reason to have an open transaction policy to curb corrupt practices in bidding and procurement. Accountability measures that can be consistently monitored by stakeholders must be put in place,” Poe said.