Palace vows to ‘dissect plunder of MRT’

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2018 01:49 PM | Updated as of Nov 07 2018 05:52 PM

MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday vowed to “dissect the plunder of MRT (Metro Rail Transit)” after two whistleblowers came forward to reveal allegedly anomalous activities of former government officials.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said two whistleblowers, who used to be directly involved in the MRT operations, have come forward to reveal alleged corrupt practices in the management of the busy mass transit system along EDSA.

Roque did not identify the former government officials involved in the allegedly corrupt practices. He earlier said new charges may be filed against former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. 

He also hinted that the government may take action against its private sector partner in the MRT 3.

“I have documents already. I’m just giving notice to NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and DOJ (Department of Justice) before I go public with the documents,” Roque said in a news briefing in Malacañang.

“I promise this will be a continuing activity that we have here, and that is dissecting the plunder of MRT.”

Roque earlier said the whistleblowers claimed that a certain "Pangasinan Group" and a “political machinery” pocketed two-thirds of the payment given to the MRT’s former maintenance provider, Filipino-Korean consortium Busan Universal Rail Inc.

“Ngayon lang lumalabas iyong mga whistleblower. Ngayon lang may hawak tayong whistleblower kung paano hatian. Meron pala kasing tinatawag na Pangasinan Group diyan,” he said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

“Ang sabi ng whistleblower ay 1/3 daw nung total na binabayad natin para sa kontratang ito ay napupunta lang doon sa Pangasinan group ‘no. Tapos 1/3 daw ay diumano ay binabayad din sa political machinery at 1/3 lang talaga iyong napupunta para sa pag-maintain ng MRT 3.”

The Department of Transportation last November terminated its maintenance contract with BURI, which was tapped by the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.

It then filed plunder and graft charges against former Aquino administration officials, including Roxas and Abaya.

Roque said former MRT general manager Al Vitangcol may also be included in the personalities who may be asked to testify in the new set of cases.

Vitangcol has accused Aquino administration officials of corruption in the operations of MRT 3.

In 2016, he filed graft charges against Abaya, then MRT general manager Roman Buenafe, and four Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) executives over the alleged anomalous procurement of 48 train cars for the MRT 3 from Chinese firm Dalian Locomotives and Rolling Stocks, Co.

Vitangcol had said the DOTC officials got P75.187 million while the Bids and Awards Committee members received P37.593 million for favoring the Chinese firm.

Vitangcol himself is facing graft charges for allegedly extorting $30 million from Czech firm Inekon in exchange for the contract of additional light rail vehicles and maintenance for the MRT 3.

The MRT 3, which plies the stretch of EDSA, has been suffering from frequent breakdowns, making the daily commute burdensome for its passengers.