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Abaya indicted for graft over MRT-3 contract

By Czarina Nicole O. Ong

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has found probable cause to indict former Department of Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and 16 others over the allegedly anomalous P4.2-billion Metro Rail Transit 3 maintenance contract awarded to Busan Joint Venture.

The respondents will be charged for violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

They are former DOTr Undersecretaries Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco, head of the negotiating team, and Catherine Jennifer Francis Gonzales, vice head of the negotiating team;

Former MRT 3 officials General Manager Roman Buenafe, Camille Alcaraz, assistant secretary for procurement; Ofelia Astrera, vice chairperson, bids and awards committee; Charissa Eloisa Julia Opulencia, Attorney V; Oscar Bongon, chief of the engineering division; Jose Rodante Sabayle, Engineer;

Private respondents Eldonn Ferdinand Uy of Edison Development and Construction, Elizabeth Velasco of Tramat Mercantile Inc., Belinda Tan of TMI Corp. Inc., Brian Velasco of Castan Corp., and Antonio Borromeo, Jun Ho Hwang, and Elpidio Uy of Busan Universal Rail Inc.

Based on investigation, the Ombudsman Special Panel of Investigators found out that Busan JV was not technically, legally, or financially capable to undertake the long-term contract for the maintenance of MRT 3 which stretches from North Ave. in Quezon City to Taft Ave. in Pasay City.

It also found out that despite its ineligibility, the respondents extended unwarranted benefits, advantages, and preferences to the contractor.