Former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya may be out of government, but he’s not yet off the hook as far as controversy surrounding the procurement of vehicle license plates worth P3.8 billion is concerned.
Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc on Monday (August 29) revealed that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered Abaya to explain why several vehicle owners have yet to receive the license plates they paid for since 2014.
Also being held liable are six officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (which has since become the Department of Transportation): Undersecretaries Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, Rene Limcaoco, Julianito Bucayan, and Catherine Jennifer Gonzales; and assistant secretaries Alfonso Tan Jr. and Ildefonso Patdu.
The joint venture of Filipino Power Plates Inc. and Dutch J. Knierem B.V. Goes (PPI-JKG) has accused Abaya of graft, red tape and incompetence in bidding out the contract for the production of license plates.
The uproar over the delay in release of license plates has been compounded by the substandard quality of the plates that were initially delivered, with the metal crumpling in floodwaters.
During the Senate investigation on the license plates mess, it was discovered that Abaya already paid P478 million to PPI-JKG even if Congress had allotted only P530 million for it.
Abaya and the Filipino-Dutch consortium were charged with graft over the contract but the Ombudsman dismissed it on a technicality.