By Ernie Reyes | InterAksyon
Senator and vice presidential aspirant Sen. Ferdinand R. "Bongbong" Marcos on Friday called on the Office of the Ombudsman to look into an alleged "midnight deal" entered into by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Emilio Abaya for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) System.
Marcos found it distressing that the DOTC still proceeded with the awarding of the P3.81 billion maintenance contract to a Korean-led consortium despite numerous questions over the agreement including its not being properly bid out.
The deal is being dubbed a midnight deal because it was entered into in the last few months of the Aquino administration even though its funding had long been planned and appropriated in the 2014 and 2015 national budgets.
Abaya announced the contract's awarding on Christmas, when the government and the public were on vacation.
"The deal, for me, is highly questionable mainly because it was done without bidding. Secretary Abaya justified it by saying it was because they were under an emergency, but some sectors countered that the so-called emergency situation was just a ploy to do away with the bidding," Marcos said.
With the allegations circulating, the senator said the Ombudsman has to step in and determine if, indeed, the DOTC move was carried out within the bounds of the law.
The Ombudsman has the power to investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency.
Marcos pointed out that an investigation is of utmost importance, since there were also questions over the alleged anomalous maintenance contracts entered into by the DOTC with PH Trams from 2012 to 2013.
DOTC had earlier proceeded to award the P3.81 billion three-year maintenance contract for MRT3 with the joint venture of Korean group Busan Transportation Corp., Edison Development and Construction, Tramat Mercantile Inc., TMI Corp. Inc. and Castan Corp.
But Marcos said several groups have raised the lack of competence of the consortium, as its members have inadequate capitalization and the local partners have no experience in rail maintenance.
"The Office of the Ombudsman should take the initiative here, because it is not only the integrity of our procurement processes that is at stake here, but the safety of our commuting public. We cannot just let the lives of our people be put in the hands of a group of people who are inexperienced in this. This is very disturbing," he stressed.
Less than six months before the Aquino administration ends, the DOTC has also called for pre-qualification and bidding for the LRT Line 6 from Bacoor to Dasmariñas City, Cavite.