DoTC Sec. Abaya denies “blacklisting ” claims

July 20, 2013 1:05 am 

By Raymond T. Africa

MANILA, July 19 (PNA) — Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya Friday set the record straight on the murky allegations being raised in connection with the agency's efforts to improve the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) system.

In a statement, Abaya denied that Inekon, a Czech Republic-based tram makers, was blacklisted contrary to news reports.

“Inekon has not been blacklisted. There is no blacklist. There is simply no truth to the claim,” said Abaya in response to the news report published in the Philippine Star today.

Abaya said when he and Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar met in April 2013, he requested Rychtar to relay to Inekon that the DoTC was encouraging them to participate in the bidding of the MRT-3 Capacity Expansion Project.

During that meeting, Rychtar also raised some concerns regarding the bid, and even requested Abaya to be cautious about the issue.

Abaya said that personally, he felt that there was too strong a push for the Czech proposal, such that the allegations of irregularities were mixed with a business agenda.

He said he has already initiated an investigation into the claims contained in the news report, which alleged that there was an extortion attempt from an official of the transport agency when Inekon offered to supply additional light rail vehicles (LRVs) for the MRT-3 system.

"We at the DOTC express in the strongest possible terms our commitment to fight corruption at all levels. We will take all the necessary steps to uncover the truth behind these allegations, which remain unsubstantiated at the moment," Abaya said.

The DOTC resorted to a solicited bidding mode for the project, to ensure a level playing field, openness, and transparency.

The direct contracting mode was not pursued because it is not as transparent as an open bidding.

"Opening the project to bidding erases doubts as to any favoritism. I personally felt that the Inekon proposal — which was never formally submitted to the DoTC and which amounted to around $ 3 million per LRV — could make it appear that favors were being made," he added.

The approved estimate for DoTC’s bid was only $ 1.8 million per LRV, around $ 1.2 million per LRV less than the indicative amount in the Inekon proposal.

The supposed extortion attempt first came into the news as a rumor, and the news report now carried misleading claims, prompting Abaya to clarify the issue.

"We are already investigating the matter, and welcome any other investigations into this issue. The DOTC remains fully committed to 'daang matuwid'," said Abaya.

Abaya said he always had authority from President Benigno S. Aquino III to bring in his own people to assume the appointive positions at the DOTC, but that he has found no need to replace the existing team when he assumed the post of Secretary.

"Having worked with the current DOTC undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and members of our Bids and Awards committees, I vouch for their integrity and good work ethic," he said.

Abaya added that it is in his nature as a person and as a former naval officer not to bring a battalion of soldiers wherever he goes.

The DOTC is also inviting the people who claim to have been involved in the alleged extortion attempt to come forward, submit sworn statements, and file a formal complaint. (PNA)



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