MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday urged the Office of the Ombudsman to “show its true independence” following the filing of graft charges against former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and other transportation officials before the anti-graft body.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the filing of a complaint against Abaya and other officials over the allegedly anomalous deal with Metro Railway Transit 3 (MRT-3) maintenance service provider Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) is “long overdue.”
“Our people, especially the long suffering commuters of MRT who would experience daily train breakdowns during their travel, surely welcome this development,” Abella said in a news conference.
He called on the anti-graft body “to show its true independence in fighting corruption in the corridors of the power,” given that one of those charged was an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III, just like Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
Morales has earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for supposedly being biased towards allies of the previous administration. The President has said he would support moves to impeach Morales, whose term expires in July 2018.
The former Supreme Court magistrate has denied claims of bias. In July, her office indicted Aquino for usurpation of authority and violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act for his alleged role in the botched January 2015 anti-terror raid in Maguindanao province, which left 44 police commandos dead.
The Ombudsman is currenty investigating the President's and his family's wealth. Duterte has meanwhile accused the Ombudsman of corruption and selective justice.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Monday lodged graft charges against some 30 former officials led by Abaya in connection with an allegedly anomalous contract with the MRT-3 service provider.
The government last week notified BURI that it would terminate the firm's P3.8-billion contract due to chronic service interruptions.
Led by Transport Undersecretary Reinier Paul Yebra, the DOTr legal team filed a 29-page complaint alleging that BURI's contract was "anomalous"and "irregular.”