Press Release
January 12, 2021


Accountability must be in the center of our institutions.

It is thus disheartening to hear the news that the Office of the Ombudsman has abandoned its earlier ruling and decided to let the chief architects of the highly anomalous MRT-3 maintenance contract get off scot-free.

This is indeed a slap in the face of the thousands of Filipino commuters who suffered for years due to the failure of public officials to dispense their duty. May nagpabaya kaya nagdusa ang sambayanan.

I will let the earlier decision of the Ombudsman speak for itself. In an 88-page consolidated resolution last 2018, it found probable cause to file graft charges against former transportation secretary Jun Abaya and 16 others for conspiring to provide unwarranted advantage and preference to the Busan Universal Rail Inc. or BURI by awarding to it the P4.2-billion MRT-3 maintenance contract.

It is unclear at this point how the reversal affects the findings of facts in the earlier resolution - that the suspicious award was made despite BURI's clear "lack of eligibility and qualifications" at a time when the grantee was not even incorporated and for which a respondent official even helped facilitate.

We lauded such decision because it is consistent with the findings of the Senate Committee on Public Services that there are indeed "badges of negligence and inactions of the DOTr officials led by Abaya indicating insensitivity, callous indifference and acts disadvantageous to the commuters, to the Filipino public and to the government with regard to the malfunction problem of the MRT."

Hindi maaaring walang managot kapag may katiwaliang naganap.

By choosing not to hold these people accountable, we might be sending the wrong message here: that graft is not a serious criminal offense, that corruption is excusable, that the people's call for accountability will ultimately fall on deaf ears.

We could only hope that this decision will not embolden crooks and hooligans to make a money-making venture out of the government. We should be purging them, not absolving them at the slightest opportunity.

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