By: Marites Toledo
THEY are not sacred cows anymore.
Thus, former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya was slapped with corruption charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the P3.8 Billion license plates scam that allegedly took place during the previous administration.
Aside from Abaya, other officials who were included in the charges in connection with the highly questionable P3.8 Billion Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP) are Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, former Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairman of the Department of Transportation and Communication, now Department of Transportation;
Rene Limcaoco, former DOTC BAC member; Jualianito Bucayan, Jr., former DOTC BAC member; Dante Lantin, former DOTC BAC member; Catherine Jennifer Gonzales, overall head of BAC Secretariat; Alfonso Tan Jr., former chief, Land Transportation Office (LTO); and Ron Salo, corporate counsel, supplier Power Plates Development Concepts Incorporated-J. Knieriem BV-Goes (PPI-JKG).
In its complaint before the DOJ, the Citizens Crime Watch and Liga ng Eksplosibong Pagbabago accused Abaya and his seven co-respondents of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Government Procurement Reform Act, and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees.
The two NGOs said the BAC members gave green light on the project despite of “falsified” financial statement of JKG in 2011.
They said there was no post qualification of winning bidder, which allegedly does not have the financial capability to manufacture the license plates, despite the recommendation of the department’s technical working group.
“It can be inferred that the DOTC-BAC have acted in manifest partiality towards PPI-JKG joint venture. The members of the DOTC-BAC, knowing the falsity of the documents submitted, qualified the said joint venture and even approved the award of the MVLPSP project to the same,” the complaint stated.
“Apparently, the award of the project to the same joint venture hinged on the financial and/or material gains that these respondents would get from the same joint venture in the event of a successful award,” it added.
The Commission on Audit (COA) had issued a notice of disallowance against the contract because it was awarded without an allotment under the General Appropriations Act of 2014.
Acting on a petition of lawmakers Jonathan Dela Cruz and Gustavo Tambunting, the Supreme Court stopped the LTO last June from releasing the 700,000 license plates to motorists and from accepting more license plates from the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
The license plates were shipped in 11 container vans, but were not claimed by the Dutch-Filipino consortium because it did not settle the P40 Million worth of taxes and duties.