Malacañang has bucked at Vice President Leni Robredo’s remark that the filing of plunder charges against nine of former President Benigno Aquino III’s Cabinet Secretaries was a scapegoat for the administration’s failures.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday (December 1) said they find Robredo’s remarks “unfortunate.”
“With all due respect to Vice President Robredo, the MRT-3 issue is not about covering up shortcomings,” he said.
Roque said the woes besetting the MRT-3 are “cumulative problems” inherited by the Duterte administration
“[T]he long-suffering commuters of Metro Manila have known for years how the past government destroyed the MRT,” he said.
As such, Roque said the filing of the plunder complaint against officials of the previous administration was a way to make them accountable.
“These officials facilitated the negotiated procurement of long-term maintenance contracts to BURI, which per the Supplemental Complaint Affidavit filed by the DOTr, ‘turned the DOTC as a bottomless cash cow entering into one anomalous procurement project,'” he said.
“We cannot simply sweep the sins of incompetence and corruption under the rug with the harsh reality of half a million daily suffering riding public staring us in the face,” he added.
In an interview Thursday, Robredo said she was hopeful the plunder charges files against former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and eight other former Cabinet Secretaries in connection with the MRT-3’s maintenance contract were based on evidence.
Named as Abaya’s co-accused in the case were former DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas, former Budget and Management secretary Florencio Abad, former Finance secretary Cesar Purisima, former Energy secretary Jericho Petilla, former Science and Technology chief Mario Montejo, former Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former Public Works and Highways secretary Rogelio Singson, and former National Development and Economic Administration secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
Roque said the administration has faced the Metro Rail Transit-3 mess squarely, with President Rodrigo Duterte even apologizing for a recent mishap.
Transportation officials, he added, are working double time to restore the train line’s convenience and reliability by getting a competent maintenance firm.