PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK (Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

POPE FRANCIS SKIPPING CEBU EVENT IN 2016


JULY 14 ---Pope Francis would not be coming back to the country in January next year. STAR/File photo
- The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) quashed hopes of Filipinos yesterday when it announced that Pope Francis would not be coming back to the country in January next year.
Re-elected CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the 78-year-old Pope Francis, who made a five-day apostolic journey and state visit to the Philippines last Jan. 15-19, would not be attending the 51stInternational Eucharist Congress (IEC) in Cebu from Jan. 24 to 31. However, the Pope would send a representative, he said. “It is certain that Pope Francis is not coming to the country for the IEC. He will just send a papal legate, a papal envoy… while he (Pope Francis) did not say that he is coming, but sending a papal legate is almost saying that ‘I will be there’. That is important because he said he will send an envoy,” said Villegas. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pope Francis says he wasn't offended by 'communist crucifix' gift
[Francis added that he brought the crucifix home with him.]

 
JULY 14 ---Pontiff says he views Bolivian president Evo Morales’s controversial present, based on the work of an assassinated Jesuit priest, through lens of history evo morales pope francis crucifix In this 8 July 2015 photo, Bolivian President Evo Morales presents Pope Francis with a crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle, in La Paz, Bolivia. Photograph: L'Osservatore Romano/Associated Press Associated Press aboard the papal plane Monday 13 July 2015 16.50 BST Last modified on Monday 13 July 2015 17.28 BST
Pope Francis has said he wasn’t offended by the “communist crucifix” given to him by Bolivian president Evo Morales during his South American pilgrimage. Vatican bewildered by Bolivia's 'communist crucifix' gift to Pope Francis Read more Morales surprised the pontiff with the unusual gift, a crucifix attached to a hammer and sickle, when Francis arrived in La Paz on Wednesday. The crucifix was a replica of one designed by a Jesuit priest, the Reverend Luís Espinal, who was tortured and killed by Bolivian paramilitary squads in 1980. Francis prayed at the site of Espinal’s assassination upon his arrival in Bolivia. READ MORE...

ALSO: Smartmatic bags P1.7-B voting machine contract


JULY 14 --In Resolution No. 2015-004, the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee -1 has recommended the issuance of the “Notice of Award” to Smartmatic-Total Information Management for its bid offer of more than P1.7 billion. File photo
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved the awarding to Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) of the contract to lease 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines for the 2016 polls. In Resolution No. 2015-004, the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee -1 (SBAC-1) has recommended the issuance of the “Notice of Award” to the joint venture for its bid offer of more than P1.7 billion. “SBAC-1 resolves to recommend to the head of the procuring entity the issuance of the Notice of Award (to the joint venture) as the bidder with the lowest calculated responsive bid for the lease with option to purchase of election management system and precinct-based OMR or optical scan system,” the committee said. The project has an approved budget of P2.5 billion, but Smartmatic-TIM’s bid offer was only P1.72 billion. SBAC-1 had disqualified Smartmatic-TIM twice after it found the joint venture’s bid documents to be “non-responsive” they did not contain Articles of Incorporation and actual bid price offer. The Comelec approved the joint venture’s appeal for reconsideration. The Comelec also declared a failure the joint venture’s demonstration of its machines during the post qualification stage of the bidding. But when the joint venture protested, the poll body relented. SBAC-1 added in its resolution that Smartmatic-TIM is required to “post its corresponding performance security in an amount equal to a percentage of the total contract price.” Currently, the Comelec is looking at two options for the conduct of polls next year. One option is to refurbish some 81,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, while the other option is to lease 70,000 more OMR machines. READ MORE...

ALSO: US wants to seize $12.5-M pork barrel 'queen' Napoles California assets ["The Justice Department will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt or a place to hide and invest stolen riches," Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said.]


JULY 14 ---Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the illegal detention case filed by her cousin Benhur Luy. AP/Noel Celis-Pool
The United States (US) Department of Justice on Tuesday moved to seize the property and assets of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam.
According to a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the civil forfeiture complaint seeks to recover the California assets of Napoles found in the US, which approximately amounts to $12.5 million. The justice department believes the assets were derived from Napoles' bribery and kickback schemes in the Philippines for nearly a decade. "The Justice Department will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt or a place to hide and invest stolen riches," Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said. Caldwell noted that Napoles purchased properties and other assets in the US to disguise and enjoy her ill-gotten wealth. "The FBI is committed to ensuring that the U.S. financial system is not used to launder the proceeds of foreign bribery schemes. Nor is the United States a safe haven for the fruits of corruption," FBI Los Angeles Field Office Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Philippines seeks to claim US assets of pork barrel scam mastermind


JULY 15 ---FROM PHILSTAR: CTA lifts arrest order against Jeane Napoles PHOTO: Janet Lim-Napoles’ daughter Jeane poses with President Aquino during an event in Cebu last year. This photo was posted on her Instagram account but has since been deleted. By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated May 6, 2015 - 5:08pm 6
The Philippines said Wednesday it is seeking to recoup $12.5 million in assets from Janet Napoles, a Filipina businesswoman at the center of a massive corruption scandal, as the United States attempts to seize her possessions. The US Justice Department filed a civil forfeiture complaint Tuesday to gain control of assets purchased in the US with money intended for development and disaster relief in a case dubbed the “pork barrel scam”. They include a swanky Los Angeles condominium, a motel near Disneyland, and a Porsche Boxster Napoles allegedly bought for her daughter using aid funds. Manila is helping its US counterpart in the effort to seize the assets, Philippines Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said. “If and when they succeed, (Manila) will request that the money will be turned over to us,” she told Agence France-Presse in a text message. The complaint filed in a Los Angeles Federal District Court alleged Napoles paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Philippine politicians and officials from 2004-2012 to get $200 million in funds which were supposed to help poor Filipinos. READ MORE...

ALSO: Deles Is Engaged in Malicious Kind of Preconditioning -NDFP spokesman


JULY 14 ---NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF THE PHILIPPINES' Louie Jalandoni (photo: jon bustamante)
NEGOTIATING PANEL Press Statement 14 July 2015 Compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG, 1995) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL, 1998) and other peace agreements is not a precondition. It is a solemn obligation arising from agreements forged meticulously by both Parties, the GRP and the NDFP. Noncompliance means the Government of the Philippines (GPH) does not know how to honor agreements. It is Secretary Deles who is engaged in extremely malicious kind of preconditioning. She is setting such a foolish precondition to formal peace talks as getting rid of existing agreements like the Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG and CARHRIHL By such preconditioning, Secretary Deles obstructs the efforts to achieve an agreement on social and economic reforms and a possible truce and cooperation before the end of the current Aquino administration. The positive actions of people like Speaker Belmonte, former President Fidel V. Ramos under whose adminstration ten agreements including the The Hague Joint Declaration (1992), the JASIG and the CARHRIHL, and former GRP Negotiating Panel Chair Silvestre H. Bello III are appreciated by the NDFP. Bello had declared, “The GPH must respect the peace agreements. For who would trust a government that does not honor and comply with agreements and contracts it has entered into.” The NDFP likewise appreciates the call of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform and other peace advocates to honor all agreements, address the roots of the armed conflict, and resume peace talks. LUIS G. JALANDONI Chairperson, Negotiating Panel National Democratic Front of the Philippines THIS IS THE FULL STATEMENT...

ALSO: Group claims anomaly in LRT-2 bidding


JULY 17 ---DOTC SECRETARY ABAYA Could there be another anomaly in the bidding for the maintenance service contract for the Light Rail Transit Line 2 being conducted by the LRT Authority and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)?
A consumer group said yesterday an apparent “quickie scheme” is allegedly being perpetrated by “some quarters” in President Aquino’s administration either to “raise funds for the party’s 2016 election war chest or make hay while nobody’s looking before leaving the government cash cow.” The National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC) said the government should immediately act on the alleged scheme to prevent what could be a “mass transit tragedy.” NCFC spokesman and lawyer Oliver San Antonio said they have documents to prove their claim that the LRTA bids and awards committee allowed the bidding despite discrepancies in the winning bidder’s specifications and that of the LRT-2. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Pope skipping Cebu event in 2016


Pope Francis would not be coming back to the country in January next year. STAR/File photo

MANILA, JULY 20, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Evelyn Macairan July 14, 2015 -  MANILA, Philippines - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) quashed hopes of Filipinos yesterday when it announced that Pope Francis would not be coming back to the country in January next year.

Re-elected CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the 78-year-old Pope Francis, who made a five-day apostolic journey and state visit to the Philippines last Jan. 15-19, would not be attending the 51stInternational Eucharist Congress (IEC) in Cebu from Jan. 24 to 31.

However, the Pope would send a representative, he said.

“It is certain that Pope Francis is not coming to the country for the IEC. He will just send a papal legate, a papal envoy… while he (Pope Francis) did not say that he is coming, but sending a papal legate is almost saying that ‘I will be there’. That is important because he said he will send an envoy,” said Villegas.

READ MORE...

He believed that it was reasonable for the Holy Father to skip attending the IEC since he was just in the country recently.

“It would be unfair to the other countries if he is coming again… If we insist, we would appear to be selfish because he would have lesser time to visit other countries. It would be a waste of opportunity because people from other countries would not be able to see him.”

Asked on the possibility that the Holy Father would make a surprise visit, the CBCP president said this would not be the case.

“Not that big of a surprise because it would be difficult for us.”

With the theme “Mercy and Compassion,” the primary agenda of his visit last January was to see the people in Tacloban City and Leyte affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

In an open area beside the Tacloban airport, despite strong winds and heavy rains, the pontiff said mass and told them, “I am here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I’m here.”

He also met with President Aquino in Malacañang, went to a youth gathering at the University of Santo Tomas and made an unexpected visit to an orphanage beside the Manila Cathedral.


THE GUARDIAN

Pope Francis says he wasn't offended by 'communist crucifix' gift


Pontiff says he views Bolivian president Evo Morales’s controversial present, based on the work of an assassinated Jesuit priest, through lens of history evo morales pope francis crucifix In this 8 July 2015 photo, Bolivian President Evo Morales presents Pope Francis with a crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle, in La Paz, Bolivia. Photograph: L'Osservatore Romano/Associated Press Associated Press aboard the papal plane Monday 13 July 2015 16.50 BST Last modified on Monday 13 July 2015 17.28 BST

Pope Francis has said he wasn’t offended by the “communist crucifix” given to him by Bolivian president Evo Morales during his South American pilgrimage.

Vatican bewildered by Bolivia's 'communist crucifix' gift to Pope Francis Read more Morales surprised the pontiff with the unusual gift, a crucifix attached to a hammer and sickle, when Francis arrived in La Paz on Wednesday.

The crucifix was a replica of one designed by a Jesuit priest, the Reverend Luís Espinal, who was tortured and killed by Bolivian paramilitary squads in 1980. Francis prayed at the site of Espinal’s assassination upon his arrival in Bolivia.

READ MORE...

The modified crucifix immediately raised eyebrows, with some questioning whether Morales, whose socialist and anti-church rhetoric is well-known, was trying to score a political point with a questionable, and possibly sacrilegious, melding of faith and ideology.

Francis, an Argentine Jesuit, said Espinal was well-known among his fellow Jesuits as a proponent of the Marxist strain of liberation theology. The Vatican opposed it, fearing that Marxists were using liberation theology’s “preferential option for the poor” as a call for armed revolution against oppressive rightwing regimes that were in power in much of Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s.

During a news conference en route home to Rome on Sunday, Francis said he interpreted Morales’ gift through the prism of Espinal’s Marxist bent and viewed it as protest art.

After taking into consideration the time in which he lived, Francis said: “I understand this work. For me it wasn’t an offense.”

Francis added that he brought the crucifix home with him.


PHILSTAR

Smartmatic bags P1.7-B voting machine contract By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 14, 2015 - 12:00am 1 26 googleplus0 0


In Resolution No. 2015-004, the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee -1 has recommended the issuance of the “Notice of Award” to Smartmatic-Total Information Management for its bid offer of more than P1.7 billion. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved the awarding to Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) of the contract to lease 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines for the 2016 polls.

In Resolution No. 2015-004, the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee -1 (SBAC-1) has recommended the issuance of the “Notice of Award” to the joint venture for its bid offer of more than P1.7 billion.

“SBAC-1 resolves to recommend to the head of the procuring entity the issuance of the Notice of Award (to the joint venture) as the bidder with the lowest calculated responsive bid for the lease with option to purchase of election management system and precinct-based OMR or optical scan system,” the committee said.

The project has an approved budget of P2.5 billion, but Smartmatic-TIM’s bid offer was only P1.72 billion.

SBAC-1 had disqualified Smartmatic-TIM twice after it found the joint venture’s bid documents to be “non-responsive” they did not contain Articles of Incorporation and actual bid price offer. The Comelec approved the joint venture’s appeal for reconsideration.

The Comelec also declared a failure the joint venture’s demonstration of its machines during the post qualification stage of the bidding. But when the joint venture protested, the poll body relented.

SBAC-1 added in its resolution that Smartmatic-TIM is required to “post its corresponding performance security in an amount equal to a percentage of the total contract price.”

Currently, the Comelec is looking at two options for the conduct of polls next year.

One option is to refurbish some 81,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, while the other option is to lease 70,000 more OMR machines.

READ MORE...

The 23,000 OMR machines will supplement whichever of the two options is chosen.

Meanwhile, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista met with officials and members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) last Sunday to brief them on what to expect from a computerized conduct of polls in 2016.

CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Arcbishop Socrates Villegas said the meeting coincided with the 111th Plenary Assembly of bishops.

Villegas said the prelates would further tackle election issues in the next plenary assembly in January. While the CBCP did not issue post-assembly statement on the elections, Villegas said it’s the consensus among the bishops that next year’s polls should be transparent, efficient and with public accountability. – Evelyn Macairan


PHILSTAR

US wants to seize $12.5-M Napoles California assets By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated July 15, 2015 - 9:58am 16 839 googleplus0 2


Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the illegal detention case filed by her cousin Benhur Luy. AP/Noel Celis-Pool

MANILA, Philippines — The United States (US) Department of Justice on Tuesday moved to seize the property and assets of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam.

According to a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the civil forfeiture complaint seeks to recover the California assets of Napoles found in the US, which approximately amounts to $12.5 million.

The justice department believes the assets were derived from Napoles' bribery and kickback schemes in the Philippines for nearly a decade.

"The Justice Department will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt or a place to hide and invest stolen riches," Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said.

Caldwell noted that Napoles purchased properties and other assets in the US to disguise and enjoy her ill-gotten wealth.

"The FBI is committed to ensuring that the U.S. financial system is not used to launder the proceeds of foreign bribery schemes. Nor is the United States a safe haven for the fruits of corruption," FBI Los Angeles Field Office Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich said.

READ MORE...

From 2004 to 2012, Napoles bribed politicians and government officials in exchange for over $200 million in funding for development assistance and disaster relief, according to the complaint.

Napoles' non-governmental organizations then either failed or underdelivered on the projects. The Filipino businesswoman allegedly transferred over $12 million in Philippine government-awarded funds to bank accounts in the US.

She then used the funds to purchase assets such as a condominium at the Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles, a motel near Disneyland in Anaheim, California, properties in Covina and Irvine, California, a 19-percent stake in a California-based consulting company and a Porsche Boxster, the justice department said. The complaint seeks to forfeit the proceeds from the sale of these assets.

Napoles, two of her children and numerous current and former officials, including senators and government ministers, have been charged in connection with what has been nicknamed the "pork barrel scam."

Corruption has plagued the poverty-stricken nation of 97 million for decades, fostered by a culture of impunity by powerful politicians, businessmen and their allies, weak law enforcement and a notoriously slow justice system.

President Benigno Aquino III came to office in 2010 pledging to break from corruption in the nation's past, but few top officials have been prosecuted.

Napoles, who has pleaded not guilty in the corruption case, currently is serving up to 40 years in prison in the Philippines after being convicted of illegally detaining a relative who was a whistleblower. - with reports from Associated Press


MANILA TIMES

Philippines seeks to claim US assets of scam mastermind July 15, 2015 1:15 pm


FROM PHILSTAR: CTA lifts arrest order against Jeane Napoles PHOTO: Janet Lim-Napoles’ daughter Jeane poses with President Aquino during an event in Cebu last year. This photo was posted on her Instagram account but has since been deleted. By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated May 6, 2015 - 5:08pm 6

The Philippines said Wednesday it is seeking to recoup $12.5 million in assets from Janet Napoles, a Filipina businesswoman at the center of a massive corruption scandal, as the United States attempts to seize her possessions.

The US Justice Department filed a civil forfeiture complaint Tuesday to gain control of assets purchased in the US with money intended for development and disaster relief in a case dubbed the “pork barrel scam”.

They include a swanky Los Angeles condominium, a motel near Disneyland, and a Porsche Boxster Napoles allegedly bought for her daughter using aid funds.

Manila is helping its US counterpart in the effort to seize the assets, Philippines Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

“If and when they succeed, (Manila) will request that the money will be turned over to us,” she told Agence France-Presse in a text message.

The complaint filed in a Los Angeles Federal District Court alleged Napoles paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Philippine politicians and officials from 2004-2012 to get $200 million in funds which were supposed to help poor Filipinos.

READ MORE...

The organizations Napoles ran did not deliver the services, and she took the money for her own personal use, the department said.

Napoles, who is already in jail in the Philippines for kidnapping her cousin in 2014, has been charged along with family members in the corruption case.

Three opposition senators have been detained and charged in connection with the scam.

“It is US policy to keep no share of stolen money… It is possible they will turn over the entire amount to us,” de Lima said.

She said a similar mechanism had been applied after a Philippine general was found in 2010 to have stashed millions of dollars in military funds in the US.

“We support this action on the part of the US based on their law,” de Lima added.

Filipino officials are also concurrently seeking to recover Napoles’ assets that have been hidden or invested in the Philippines, she said.

However, the cases are still pending in court, de Lima added.

Napoles’ lawyer, Steven Uy, said he did not know how the US calculated the amount of $12.5 million, telling Manila radio station DZBB that some of these assets had already been sold.

“I know we have a legal team there to answer that. It will eventually come out in the court that they (Napoles family) legally own it,” Uy added.


From NDFP Information Office (mailing@ndfp.org)

Deles Is Engaged in Malicious Kind of Preconditioning, says ndfp spokesman Jalandoni


Louie Jalandoni (photo: jon bustamante)

NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF THE PHILIPPINES NEGOTIATING PANEL

Press Statement 14 July 2015

Compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG, 1995) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL, 1998) and other peace agreements is not a precondition. It is a solemn obligation arising from agreements forged meticulously by both Parties, the GRP and the NDFP.

Noncompliance means the Government of the Philippines (GPH) does not know how to honor agreements.

It is Secretary Deles who is engaged in extremely malicious kind of preconditioning. She is setting such a foolish precondition to formal peace talks as getting rid of existing agreements like the Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG and CARHRIHL By such preconditioning, Secretary Deles obstructs the efforts to achieve an agreement on social and economic reforms and a possible truce and cooperation before the end of the current Aquino administration.

The positive actions of people like Speaker Belmonte, former President Fidel V. Ramos under whose adminstration ten agreements including the The Hague Joint Declaration (1992), the JASIG and the CARHRIHL, and former GRP Negotiating Panel Chair Silvestre H. Bello III are appreciated by the NDFP. Bello had declared, “The GPH must respect the peace agreements. For who would trust a government that does not honor and comply with agreements and contracts it has entered into.”

The NDFP likewise appreciates the call of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform and other peace advocates to honor all agreements, address the roots of the armed conflict, and resume peace talks.

LUIS G. JALANDONI Chairperson, Negotiating Panel National Democratic Front of the Philippines

(full story)

web@ndfp.org


PHILSTAR - NATION

Group claims anomaly in LRT-2 bidding By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 17, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


DOTC SECRETARY ABAYA

MANILA, Philippines - Could there be another anomaly in the bidding for the maintenance service contract for the Light Rail Transit Line 2 being conducted by the LRT Authority and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)?

A consumer group said yesterday an apparent “quickie scheme” is allegedly being perpetrated by “some quarters” in President Aquino’s administration either to “raise funds for the party’s 2016 election war chest or make hay while nobody’s looking before leaving the government cash cow.”

The National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC) said the government should immediately act on the alleged scheme to prevent what could be a “mass transit tragedy.”

NCFC spokesman and lawyer Oliver San Antonio said they have documents to prove their claim that the LRTA bids and awards committee allowed the bidding despite discrepancies in the winning bidder’s specifications and that of the LRT-2.

READ MORE...

San Antonio said the committee announced the winning bidder as Busan-EDC Joint Venture last month despite a technical working group (TWG) report dated May 25 warning that the bidder had 12 “non-responsive” provisions in its bid offer.

“They misled the public and the consumers of the government-run mass transport system,” San Antonio said, “because they failed to disclose that they waived and disregarded the valid and binding observations in the TWG report which warned of glaring disparities in the technical specifications.”

He said Busan was bidding for LRT-2 but “the specifications in their bid offer were copied and pasted from the requirements” of Metro Rail Transit Line 3.

San Antonio warned that “if saner minds in the Aquino administration fail to intervene and scuttle the procurement proceedings,” the LRT-2 is bound to suffer the fate of the “mass transit tragedy that is the MRT.”

------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR FLASHBACK JANUARY 26, 2015

LRT, MRT BIDDINGS ALL FLOP – AS PLANNED

By Jarius Bondoc (GOTCHA) | The Philippine Star | January 26, 2015

Last week’s bidding for MRT-3 maintenance flopped. So did the one for LRT-2 only last Dec. 23.

The LRT-1 bidding failed earlier, Oct. 24.

With all three works dead, the present contractors will be extended month-to-month. That means continued sloppy upkeep of MRT-3, and spare parts shortage at LRT-1 and -2.

Meantime, the government unilaterally raised metro train fares by 50-80 percent, with no upgrade in service or facilities.

Designed to fail. As previously exposed (see Gotcha, 5 Nov. 2014), the biddings were designed to flop. Transport Sec. Joseph Abaya, Liberal Party head, can now retain the MRT-3 contractors, his party mates. Earlier those LP party mates had used the old-time maintainers of LRT-1 and -2 to grab that of MRT-3.

The MRT-3 bidding of Jan. 20 failed because no bidder showed up. The same thing had happened on Oct. 28, 2014.

The P2.2-billion contract for three years was enticing. Still, big domestic firms, in partnerships with foreign experts, found the terms of reference (T-O-R) hazy.

Unclear were the penalties for breakdowns or accidents, and performance indicators.

Indefinite extensions. The DOTC withheld basic info, like how many of the original 73 trains are still running and tracks need replacing, what spare parts are on stock, and when it plans to replace the busted signaling system.

With the failed MRT-3 bidding, Abaya indefinitely can retain the joint venture of Global-APT (Global Epcom and Autre Porte Technique). It would be month-to-month for P57 million, for as long as he wishes.

Global Epcom is a front of a high official of the Philippine National Railways. APT has long held the maintenance of LRT-2.

LP agent. Marlo dela Cruz told this writer that he formed the Global-APT joint venture. He was its authorized representative when Abaya granted the deal since Sept. 2013. He claimed to have left the venture in Aug. 2014. Yet in extending the Global-APT contract for the first time in Oct. 2014, U-Sec. Jose Perpetuo Lotilla addressed the notice to him.

Dela Cruz is an LP leader in Pangasinan, where he campaigned for the 2010 VP run of then LP head Mar Roxas. Roxas later became transport secretary, ahead of Abaya.

Closed-door talks. Dela Cruz was the chairman of PH Trams, which used to maintain MRT-3 till Aug. 2013. PH Trams was only two months old, with mere P625,000-capital, when it bagged the P517.5-million deal. It was in venture with CB&T (CommBuilders & Transport), the long-time maintainer of LRT-1.

Called “simplified bidding,” Abaya’s contract with PH Trams-CB&T was by closed-door negotiation, not public auction, DOTC records show. Signing with him were Lotilla and then-MRT-3 general manager Al S. Vitangcol.

Accidents, breakdowns, From MRT-3 files and news reports, rail accidents and breakdowns became frequent under dela Cruz’s PH Trams and then Global. Before that, maintenance was by Japanese giant Sumitomo Corp. for 12 years, until suddenly rescinded to give way to PH Trams.

With dela Cruz in PH Trams were incorporator-directors Wilson de Vera and Art Soriano. A U.S. immigrant, De Vera ran but lost as LP mayor of Calasiao, Pangasinan, in 2013. Soriano, also of Calasiao, is the uncle-in-law of Vitangcol. Its exposure in this column led to his ouster (see Gotcha, 26 May 2014). Roxas had handpicked Vitangcol at MRT-3.

Other incorporator-directors are Manolo Maralit and wife, and Federico Remo, then with the state-owned Philippine Export-Import Agency under Finance Sec. Cesar Purisima.

Sole bidder ousted. The LRT-2 bidding failed last Dec. because only one bidder, APT, participated. And it was even disqualified for insufficient submissions.

That means APT too, as present maintainer, will go on in LRT-2, as it does with Global in MRT-3.

The P1.2-billion upkeep price for three years was enticing. It would have doubled the present LRT-2 service of P17 million a month to P33 million to include spare parts. This would have let the winner purchase the parts, instead of the LRT Authority, which is always late.

Still, there were no takers, again due to hazy T-O-R. Unacceptable was the DOTC’s option to shorten the contract to only one year any time during the first year. This rider was inserted because of DOTC’s inability to get a private firm to handle and extend LRT-2, similar to LRT-1.

It was the sixth bidding snafu for LRT-2.

LRT-1 failed too. Like in MRT-3 and LRT-2, the amount up for grabs in LRT-1 maintenance was enticing: P423 million for one year.

But as in MRT-3 and LRT-2 too, the parties who initially expressed interest ub LRT-1 later shied away.

They found the prospects dark. The bidding framework was flawed from the start. The contract is only for one year, yet the DOTC expects the winner to invest in maintenance machinery worth P300 million. Compounding that is the DOTC’s inability to assure that the Ayala-Metro Pacific consortium, which will extend the LRT-1 into Cavite, will recognize the winner as the maintenance contractor.

Graft probe. With last Oct.’s bidding failure, CB&T was extended as LRT-1 maintenance contractor.

CB&T’s president is Roehl Bacar, a Mandaluyong City councilor. He signed the PH Trams-CB&T contract of 2012-2013, along with dela Cruz, Abaya, Lotilla, and Vitangcol.

Last Sept. the Ombudsman declared to investigate the shenanigans in MRT-3 maintenance deals. The personalities involved reportedly were told to explain their roles.

After the first Gotcha exposé of intentional bidding failures came out last Nov., Bacar sued this writer for alleged libel, in his Mandaluyong home court. He has sued other publications that mentioned him.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE