DOTr exec: I’m only protecting gov’t funds

By , on September 25, 2017

FILE: Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade (Photo: Arthur Planta Tugade/Facebook)
FILE: Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade (Photo: Arthur Planta Tugade/Facebook)

MANILA — The withholding of payment to Busan Universal Rails Inc. (BURI), the maintenance provider of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), was done to ensure that government funds on transportation projects are spent judiciously, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said Monday.

Tugade said the withholding of payment was a collective decision of the DOTr and expressed his support to Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez who is now facing graft charges.

Chavez said he is merely ensuring that government funds are spent judiciously on projects and acquisitions.

“My decision to withhold payment is precisely to protect public funds. How can I be charged with graft when I am only protecting public funds and the people’s welfare?,” Chavez said in a statement.

Tugade expressed his support to Chavez and said if he had it his way, he should be included in the case since the decision to withhold payment was made with his approval and consent.

“Undersecretary Chavez always consults his plans and actions with me. His decisions were made with my consent, approval and confirmation. So, I should also be included in the graft case filed against him,” Tugade said in a statement.

“Besides, all his actions are in accordance with the contract, equity, decency and law. All these are aboveboard and have gone through rigorous review and due process,” Tugade added.

He noted that the withholding of payment to BURI is only taking into account “the good of the country and the welfare of the riding public.”

BURI officials recently filed a graft case against Chavez before the Ombudsman after Chavez withheld the payment for the Logical Vehicle Unit (LVU) for the MRT Line 3 worth PHP4 million.

The LVU is part of the automatic train protection or the onboard signaling system.

Chavez said he decided to temporarily hold payment of the LVU as he waits for BURI to furnish him with the Certificate of Origin and Factory Inspection Report attached to the LVU billing.

BURI has acquired the LVU from Diamond Pearl, owned by the family of Marlo dela Cruz, while the manufacturer of MRT3’s original signaling system came from Bombadier, Chavez added.

He said this is a requirement of Commission of Audit (COA) to make sure that the spare parts for the coaches are not taken from other train coaches.

“’Pag kumpleto ang mga dokumento na requirement ng COA, binabayaran natin. ‘Pag hindi, hindi rin natin binabayaran. Bakit kailangang masinop sa pagsusuri ng billing? Para matiyak na original ang spare parts at hindi rin galing sa “cannibalized” o kinuha lang na piesa sa ibang bagon. Ito ay para sa kaligtasan ng mga mananakay [We pay if documents required by COA are complete. If not, then we don’t. Why do we have to scrutinize the billing? To ensure that the spare parts are original… this is for the safety of the riding public],” Chavez said.  (PNA)