Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas was Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), when the allegedly anomalous Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) maintenance contract was cooked up.
This bombshell came no less than from one of President Benigno Aquino’s trusted lieutenants, also a stalwart of the ruling party which is fielding Roxas in the 2016 presidential race.
According to DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya, he inherited the controversial PH Trams contract from Roxas, whom he succeeded as DOTC chief.
I came in late into the DOTC, said Abaya whose name had earlier been dragged into the controversial $1.15-million-a-month maintenance contract said to have been awarded to a company controlled by persons with “insider connections.”
Even as the MRT contract was signed during his tenure, Abaya said he did not know that there was anomaly in the award.
By washing his hands off the mess, Abaya’s revelation practically heaped the blame on Roxas who could have helped cook up the allegedly anomalous contract while sitting as DOTC Secretary.
These inside information in what could be the biggest scandal facing Roxas, the presidential candidate of the Aquino administration which boasts about its success in the anti-corruption drive, was bared by Federico Pascual Jr., in his column in the Philippine Star,
“Having taken over the Department of Transportation and Communication on Oct. 18, 2012, or two days before the contract was awarded to an under-capitalized and inexperienced firm controlled by persons with insider connection, Abaya claimed he was not aware the award was defective,” wrote Pascual.
In connection with the allegedly anomalous deal, the Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of graft charges against former MRT3 General Manager Al Vitangcol III and five incorporators of PH Trams.
While the charge sheet did not include Abaya and Roxas, the DOTC chief wanted his name cleared as he had been skewered publicly for his alleged role in the mess.
To achieve this, he is forced to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and reveal that Roxas, while sitting as DOTC Secretary, handled the PH Trams deal.
With even his own party mate and a close ally of President Aquino pinning him down on his alleged role in a major corruption issue hurled at the administration, what is Roxas’ chances to be the next President of the Republic?
After the mismanaged Yolanda relief and rescue efforts and the Mamasapano Massacre where 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos were killed in a botched anti-terrorist operation in Maguindanao, both happening with Roxas as Interior Secretary, coupled with low ratings in pre-poll surveys, Abaya’s bombshell about corruption in the PH Trams deal could be the final nail that could seal doom to Roxas’ presidential bid.
Roxas has been campaigning on an anti-corruption platform and vowed to continue the “Tuwid Na Daan” (Straight Path) program of President Aquino if elected President.
If you think Roxas is lying through his teeth, then you are in the company of Abaya, who is now acting like he is a recruiter for Roxas’ rivals.