DOTC denies blacklist of Czech MRT bidder

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MANILA, Philippines—Almost three weeks since rumors of irregularities in the bidding process for new metro rail trains hit the press, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has finally spoken out, saying it was investigating the matter.

In a statement on Friday, DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya said he had already initiated an investigation into the reports that some DOTC officials tried to extort P30 million from the Czech company Inekon in exchange for a favorable result in the bidding for the P3.77-billion capacity expansion project of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).

At the same time, Abaya said he wanted to “set the record straight on the murky extortion issue,” denying published reports that the agency “blacklisted” the Czech company.

“Inekon has not been blacklisted.  There is no blacklist.  There is simply no truth to the claim,” said Abaya in the statement, reacting to published reports. He also said Inekon never formally submitted a bid to supply additional light rail vehicles (LRVs) for the MRT-3 system.

On the other hand, Abaya confirmed he had met with the Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar last April and the ambassador had indeed “raised some concerns regarding the bid, and even requested (him) to be cautious about this issue.”

However, the DOTC statement said: “Abaya said that ‘personally, he felt that there was too strong a push for the Czech proposal, such that the allegations of irregularities were mixed with a business agenda.’”

Abaya went on to say that he had requested the Czech ambassador during that meeting to encourage Inekon to participate in the bidding that was held June 11.

During that bidding, two Chinese firms qualified.  China’s Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. CNR Group, with a bid of P3.759 billion, then emerged as the only firm qualified to proceed in the process, which is now in the postqualification stage and could lead to a formal awarding. The other losing bidder was CSR Zhuzhou Locomotive.

Abaya said he would nonetheless look into press reports that an official of the transport agency had tried to extort money from Inekon.

“The DOTC is also inviting the people who claim to have been involved in the alleged extortion attempt to come forward, submit sworn statements and file a formal complaint,” the statement said.

Abaya said the existing team of executives at the DOTC were not his appointees but were holdovers from the previous secretary.

But he added: “Having worked with the current DOTC undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and members of our Bids and Awards Committees, I vouch for their integrity and good work ethic.”

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  • Catalyst of Change

    Government should play the “economic card” in the on-going territorial row. By that, the government should ban Beijing in project biddings and in exporting products here since China had also prohibited Philippine products such as bananas and mangoes. “Let’s be smart and also use the economic card,”—Dr. Clarita Carlos, foreign policy expert

  • Catalyst of Change

    My God why on earth should we buy Chinese Trains. This is scary…the public will be riding on a train “Made in China”. Why does the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) always look into the price..whoever offers the lowest price gets the project…that is not how to assess bids idiot DOTC…you should also look into the QUALITY, INTEGRITY of the COMPANY, etc. not only price…So too, the award of the contract to a Chinese Company is suspect, why? Because Chinese are known to bribe their way in getting what they want..

    With just a little penny save, we cannot compromise the safety of the riding public.

  • just_anotherperson

    These DOTC officials would not even think of buying chinese cars for their own use but would force its citizens to ride on chinese trains.

    Money talks! Do not forget that these DOTC officials were hired by Mar Roxas.

  • disqus_ZrxaGjUzMQ

    BIG NO TO MADE IN COMMUNIST CHINESE MRT COACHES TRAIN

    Manila stance on sea row hailed

    MANILA: The government under President Benigno Aquino III just needs to continue what it has been doing so far in the ongoing West Philippine Sea dispute even while China’s “bullying” and verbal attacks go on, a political analyst said.

    Dr Clarita Carlos, foreign policy expert and a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said the government needs only to respond accordingly to China’s remarks since the Asian giant is only employing psychological play.

    Carlos said China will soon get tired of its own game.

    China claims indisputable, historical sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line claim, prompting the Philippines to seek legal recourse through international arbitration before a United Nations tribunal, which has decided to start hearing the case.

    Meantime, China, which has refused to join the arbitration, has also continued with its verbal attacks even against Filipino officials, branding the Philippines as the provocateur in the sea dispute and accusing it of allegedly continuing “to play up the issue of the South China Sea, distort the facts and smear China.”

    Manila has responded to China’s verbal attacks, saying its accusations are baseless and urging it to follow the rule of law.

    Amid the sea dispute and verbal tussle, Carlos disagrees that the country should also intensify its forces in the West Philippine Sea. She said the Aquino administration is already doing its best to solve the issue.

    “I think the government is doing the best that it can under the circumstances. Let’s continue with what we have and as much as possible, we deal with it in a non-military manner,” said Carlos, who is also a consultant at the Department of Foreign Affairs and a former president of the National Defence College of the Philippines.

    In his speech during the Independence Day celebrations last June 12, Aquino vowed to defend Philippine territory through non-violent means and to upgrade the military amid the on-going dispute with China.

    “As we stand for our rights, we must continue exhibiting the values Filipinos are known for: Aggression does not run in our veins, but neither will we back down from any challenge. And while we will protect our rights and continue to build consensus with all parties to promote calm and understanding, we must also increase the capabilities of our Armed Forces,” said Aquino.

    Carlos also urged the government to play the “economic card” in the on-going territorial row. She said the government should ban Beijing in project biddings and in exporting products here since China had also prohibited Philippine products such as bananas and mangoes. “Let’s be smart and also use the economic card,” she said.

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