MANILA— Sen. Grace Poe would like to see former Liberal Party (LP) president Manuel Roxas II present in the next Senate hearing into the problems concerning the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3).
Roxas was the predecessor of Joseph Emilio Abaya as transport secretary and both are LP members. Roxas was also one of Poe’s rivals in the May 2016 presidential election.
“Sa tingin ‘ko, dapat na siya ipatawag. Pagkakataon niya para maeksplika ang sarili (I think it is about time he is called to attend. This is his chance to explain himself),” Poe told reporters in an interview after the second hearing into the MRT-3 mess.
“Ano ba ito — sinadya o naging pabaya? Yung dalawang bagay na yun, kasalanan yun. Pagkakataon din niya na makapag-eksplika (Was this done on purpose or were they negligent? Both of them are mistakes. It would be an opportunity for him to air his side),” she added.
Poe made this remark after former MRT-3 General Manager Al Vitangcol revealed during the Senate hearing that Roxas failed to reply to a letter he sent him reminding of the expiration of the contract of the MRT-3’s maintenance provider at that time, Sumitomo.
Vitangcol claimed that he sent Roxas a letter on May 2012 reminding him of the expiration of the Sumitomo contract and the need to get a new provider, however, Roxas did not respond.
The former MRT-3 general manager currently faces numerous charges of graft and extortion before the Sandiganbayan for alleged corruption in the MRT-3.
“…Gusto natin malaman kay Sec. Roxas bakit niya pinabayaan na mag-lapse ang contract ng Sumitomo at hindi niya pinayagan na magkaroon ng proper bidding nung siya ang nakaupo. Iniwan niya kay Sec. Abaya na pumirma ng kasunduan na tatlong araw pa lang si Sec. Abaya don ay pinirmahan na niya ang kontratang ito (We want to find out from Sec. Roxas why he allowed the contract of Sumitomo to lapse and did not undergo proper bidding during his term and instead left it to Sec. Abaya to sign contracts who had only been in office for three days),” Poe said.
“Alam natin na panahon pa lang ni Sec. Roxas ay nagkakaroon na ng problema kung sino ang magpapatuloy ng maintenance (We know that it was during the term of Sec. Roxas where problems on maintenance contracts started to come to view),” she added.
Abaya, who later succeeded Roxas immediately signed the contract between new maintenance provider, PH Trams- and Comm Builders And Technology Phils., Corp (CB&T) “in good faith” despite not knowing the “particulars.”
He said that he did not want to be a “Doubting Thomas” otherwise MRT-3 operations would have stopped in October 2012.
However, Poe thought it suspicious why the now defunct Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) decided to award the contract to PH-Trams which was only incorporated two months before it was awarded the MR-3 maintenance contract.
The company also had only PHP625,000 in paid-up capital but it was awarded a PHP54 million per month maintenance contract.
In the Senate hearing, CB&T President Roehl Bacar told Poe said that PH Trams approached his company for MRT-3 maintenance.
Poe said that Bacar expressed confidence that they would bag the MRT maintenance contract because the personalities of PH Trams “bragged about their connections with the Liberal Party.”
“Negotiations started with Sec. Roxas but was completed under Sec. Abaya. The discussions were facilitated by Mr. Marlo Dela Cruz,” Poe said.
Marlo Dela Cruz, according to reports, is one of the incorporators of PH Trams, the maintenance provider of the MRT-3 from October 2012 to September 2013.
Dela Cruz was also reportedly an incorporator of the joint venture of Global-APT JV from September 2013 to July 2015. Meanwhile, Dela Cruz’s brother, William, is also reportedly the general manager of Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), the existing maintenance provider of MRT.
Poe expressed hope that he and other names brought up in the hearing would also attend the hearing.
She said that the next Senate hearing into the MRT-3 mess will take place around August. In the meantime, her committee will be drafting a partial committee report.