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Thursday, September 28, 2017

DOTr Chief Supports Chavez's Legal Tussle Versus Buri


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Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade today said he supports the withholding of payment to MRT3 maintenance provider, Korean firm Busan Universal Rails Inc. (BURI).

Asked for his response to graft charges filed by BURI against Undersecretary Cesar Chavez for the withholding of payment, Secretary Tugade said he trusts how Chavez handles the rail sector of the department, and that all decisions of the latter were properly consulted with him.

“The decision to withhold payment to BURI is not a decision of Undersecretary Chavez alone. It is the decision of the Department as a whole. I support the actions of Undersecretary Chavez in handling the issues confronting the rail sector of DOTr. His actions were in accordance with my instructions," Tugade said.

Tugade likewise mentioned that if he had it his way, he should be included in the case since the decision to withhold BURI's payment was made with his approval and consent.

"Undersecretary Chavez always consults his plans and actions with me. His decisions were made with my consent, approval and confirmation. So, I should also be included in the graft case filed against him,” Tugade said. "Besides, all his actions are in accordance with the contract, equity, decency and law. All these are aboveboard and have gone through rigorous review and due process,” he added. 

The transportation chief noted that the withholding of payment to BURI is only taking into account “the good of the country and the welfare of the riding public.” 

BURI officials recently filed a graft case against Chavez before the Ombudsman after the DOTr undersecretary withheld the payment for the Logical Vehicle Unit (LVU) for the MRT Line 3 worth PHP4 million. 

The LVU is part of the automatic train protection or the onboard signaling system.

Chavez said he decided to temporarily hold payment of the LVU as he waits for BURI to furnish him with the Certificate of Origin and Factory Inspection Report attached to the LVU billing. 

BURI has acquired the LVU from Diamond Pearl, owned by the family of Marlo dela Cruz, while the manufacturer of MRT3’s original signaling system came from Bombadier, Chavez added.   

He said this is a requirement of Commission of Audit (COA) to make sure that the spare parts for the coaches are not taken from other train coaches.

“Pag kumpleto ang mga dokumento na requirement ng COA, binabayaran natin. Pag hindi, hindi rin natin binabayaran. Bakit kailangang masinop sa pagsusuri ng billing? Para matiyak na original ang spare parts at hindi rin galing sa “cannibalized” o kinuha lang na piesa sa ibang bagon. Ito ay para sa kaligtasan ng mga mananakay,” Chavez said. 

Regarding his actions to withhold the payment to BURI, Chavez maintained he is merely ensuring that government funds are spent judiciously on projects and acquisitions. 

“My decision to withhold payment is precisely to protect public funds. How can I be charged with graft when I am only protecting public funds and the people's welfare?,” he said.

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