By Arjay L. Balinbin
BEGINNING NEXT WEEK, Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. will be divulging “facts and details” about the alleged “plunder” of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3).
“Perhaps beginning next week, I will devote one day a week in disclosing facts and details about the plunder of MRT-3. But I have documents already. I’m just giving notice to the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and DoJ (Department of Justice) before I go public with the documents. But I promised that this will be a continuing activity that we will have here, which is dissecting the plunder of MRT-3,” Mr. Roque told reporters in a press briefing at the Palace on Thursday, March 8.
The spokesman announced last Tuesday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida to look further into the cases that could be filed against former officials of former president Benigno S. C. Aquino III, including Manuel A. Roxas II and Joseph Emilio A. Abaya, the former heads of the then Department of Transportation and Communications.
Asked who will initiate the filing of the new cases, Mr. Roque said: “We’ll see, because I’m directly turning over documents to the NBI and the DoJ, so we will see what they will do with the documents. But in due course, after I’ve submitted the documents, we could release even some of these official documents in the following weeks.”
The spokesman likewise confirmed that the whistle-blowers who stepped forward are former officials of the previous administration. “Of course, the nature of whistle-blowers is they are always insiders — that’s why they are whistle-blowers,” he said, adding that he had received information from them since “three weeks ago.”
He likewise clarified that former MRT-3 general manager (GM) Al S. Vitangcol III “is not yet” one of the whistle-blowers. “GM Vitangcol has been speaking ever since. Let’s just say that with independent information [I have] right now, perhaps I should go out of my way and refer GM Vitangcol also to the NBI,” Mr. Roque said.
Whether the NBI and the Office of the Ombudsman should get involved in a parallel investigation, Mr. Roque said: “That’s without prejudice, and we are hoping that the Ombudsman is conducting its own parallel investigation because an official complaint has already been filed.”
“Alam mo ang diperensiya naman po sa Ombudsman, kung may kakulangan na ebidensiya puwede naman ang Ombudsman na ang kumuha ng ebidensiya kung gusto ng Ombudsman; kung ayaw ng Ombudsman wala tayong magagawa,” Mr. Roque said. (The problem with the Ombudsman is that if there is lack of evidence, the Ombudsman can gather that evidence if it wants to. If the Ombudsman doesn’t want to, there’s nothing we can do.)
He added: “Kaya nga inaasahan natin na magiging patas ang ating Ombudsman bagama’t siya po ay kaalyado ng nakaraang administrasyon. Naniniwala naman ako na kung may ebidensiya dapat lalo pang paigtingin ng Ombudsman ang imbestigasyon.” (That’s why we are hoping that the Ombudsman will be fair despite being allied with the previous administration. I believe that if there is evidence, the Ombudsman should intensify its investigation.)