DOTC chief ready to face graft raps on MRT-3 maintenance deal

January 29, 2016 7:21 am 

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Jan. 28 (PNA) — It's not the first time Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya has been charged with graft and as before, he said that he is ready to face them.

“We have nothing to fear because we maintain that the procurement process of the three-year Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) maintenance service provider was completely aboveboard,” Abaya said on Thursday.

The DOTC chief made this statement following graft charges filed before the Office of the Ombudsman for the department’s alleged irregularities from the grant of a Php 3.8-billion MRT-3 maintenance contract to a private firm.

Charges were filed by the group Alliance for Consumerism and Transparency (ACTION) on Wednesday questioning the department’s emergency negotiated procurement for the maintenance deal.

Last Jan. 7, DOTC signed the maintenance deal with Joint Venture (JV) of Busan Transportation Corporation, Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile, Inc., TMICorp Inc., and Castan Corporation.

The contract allows the firm to fulfill the system’s maintenance requirements, procure the spare parts to increase the number of operating trains, overhaul 43 trains and replace its signaling system within 24 months.

To recall, previous attempts to bid out the contract in September 2014 and January 2015 both resulted in failure due to the non-participation of bidders.

However, the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) unanimously approved the department’s decision to proceed with an alternative mode of procurement recognizing the urgent need to address the MRT-3’s maintenance requirements.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) have also approved the said mode of procurement.

“Due to the urgency of the system’s need for a maintenance provider and in order to restore vital public services, as many passengers rely on the service every day, the DOTC resorted to an alternative mode of procurement” Abaya said.

The DOTC chief said that the mode of procurement, according to the Department of Justice DOJ, is justified and was unanimously approved by the GPPB.

He also said that despite being given the authority to invite only one prospective bidder, the department invited others namely SMRT International, Hamburg-Consult GmbH, Korea Railroad Corporation, and Busan Transportation Corporation. The SBI-CB&T JV requested to be included in the list of bidders and was allowed by the agency.

“The maintenance contract was awarded to the Busan Joint Venture after careful evaluation of its financial and technical qualifications, with the Procurement Law properly and sufficiently followed,” he added.

Abaya meanwhile said that the department will review the complaint once they receive an official copy and assured cooperation under the investigation.

“We have faith that the impartiality and courage of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales will lead to fair proceedings that will shed light on this matter,” Abaya said.

He also reiterated that the department remains open and transparent in all its bidding processes. (PNA)

FPV/ANP

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