An unusually big number of commuters stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting for their train ride at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 station on Taft Avenue and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City on Thursday morning (March 27, 2014). The commuters, coming from as far as Cavite, are bound for their places of work in Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City. (MNS photo)

An unusually big number of commuters stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting for their train ride at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 station on Taft Avenue and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City on Thursday morning (March 27, 2014). The commuters, coming from as far as Cavite, are bound for their places of work in Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Ombudsman has ordered a preliminary investigation against Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya, former MRT administrator Al Vitangcol and 19 other persons for granting an MRT-3 maintenance contract under allegedly questionable circumstances.

The investigation includes DOTC Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members, namely: Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco, Undersecretary Rafael Antonio Santos, Assistant Secretary Ildefonso Patdu, Assistant Secretary Dante Lantin, and LRTA Administrator Honorito Chaneco.

Also included in the probe are members of the Negotiating Team, namely: Misael Narca, Engr. Joel Magbanua, Arnel Manresa, Natividad Sansolis, Engr. Gina Rodriguez, Eugene Cecilio, Engr. Raphael Lavides, Atty. Geronimo Quintos; and representatives from the joint venture of the Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corporation-Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation (PH Trams – CB&T) Wilson De Vera, Arturo Soriano, Marlo Dela Cruz, Manolo Maralit and Federico Remo.

All are under investigation for alleged violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), some for alleged violations of the procurement law, and some for administrative charges.

The Ombudsman said it found there was no emergency to justify awarding the $1 million per month contract to PH Trams – CB&T in 2012 via negotiations, instead of a bidding, because DOTC had been responsible for this since 2010.

The Ombudsman also cited the formation of PH Trams just two months before awarding, its minimal capitalization of P625,000 at the time, and the family relationship between one of the incorporators and then-MRT chief Vitagcol.

Vitangcol, already embroiled in an alleged extortion attempt, left government in May. (MNS)