Abaya, et al face raps for license plate standardization program

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2016 05:18 PM

MANILA - Former officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) led by former Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya are facing charges before the justice department over the P3.8-billion Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP).

The MVLSP was disallowed by the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2015 for being awarded minus the required allotment in the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA). 

Apart from Abaya, the complaint filed by Citizens Crime Watch and Liga ng Eksplosibong Pagbabago named the following respondents in the case:

- Jose Perpetuo M. Lotilla, former DOTC Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairman;
- Rene K. Limcaoco, former DOTC BAC member; 
- Jualianito G. Bucayan, Jr., former DOTC BAC member;
- Dante M. Lantin, former DOTC BAC member; 
- Catherine Jennifer P. Gonzales, overall head of BAC Secretariat;
- Alfonso Tan, Jr., former chief, Land Transportation Office (LTO); and
- Ron P. Salo, corporate counsel, PPI-JKG Joint Venture.

Abaya and the other officials are accused of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Government Procurement Reform Act, and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees.

The complaint cited a previous case filed with the DOJ against officials of the respondent joint venture which later found respondents to have committed falsification and use of falsified documents during the bidding of the project.

The documents involved a "falsified 2011 Annual Report", which the venture claimed "to be the audited financial statement of JKG."

The complaint pointed out "the conspiracy of the car plate manufacturers to commit the offenses, as charged, 'would not have succeeded without the knowledge, intervention, act or omission of the members of the BAC.'"

Complainant stressed that no post qualification of winning bidder was done, contrary to the recommendations of the technical working group (TWG), which would have established that the PPI-JKG joint venture does not have the financial capability to manufacture the license plates. 

"It can be inferred that the DOTC-BAC have acted in manifest partiality towards PPI-JKG Joint Venture. The members of the DOTC-BAC, knowing the falsity of the documents submitted, qualified the said joint venture and even approved the award of the MVLPSP project to the same."

"Apparently, the award of the project to the same joint venture hinged on the financial and/or material gains that these respondents would get from the same joint venture in the event of a successful award," the complaint read. 

Complainants said respondents should be made to answer for collecting payments from motorists without issuing the corresponding license plates. 

A case is also pending before the Supreme Court (SC) against the MVLPSP, with the high court issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) to halt the release of some 700,000 license plates from customs.