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Kiko sees ‘cover-up’ in filing of plunder rap vs. ex-Aquino Cabinet men

The filing of plunder charges against members of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is a “cover-up” for the cases faced by the Duterte administration's allies, Liberal Party (LP) president and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Wednesday.

In a statement, Pangilinan mentioned several cases “involving allies,” including that of Supt. Marvin Marcos, the police official allegedly involved in the death of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa. Pangilinan said Marcos was reinstated and promoted despite the charges the policeman was facing.

He also cited the transfer of former Bureau of Customs officials Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo who were transferred to other agencies even if they have yet to be cleared from the P6.4-billion shabu shipment controversy, and the extortion case of former Immigration commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles.

“When we compare this to the plunder case filed against nine Cabinet secretaries of former President Aquino and three undersecretaries, there seems to be a cover-up. Is this negligence or incompetence?” Pangilinan said.

“Critics are silenced, allies go scot-free,” Pangilinan said.

“Despite all these, we trust that the Ombudsman will be fair and render impartial justice. We are confident that the former secretaries accused of wrongdoing will be able to defend and exonerate themselves,” he added.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuedsay filed plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against nine former Cabinet members of then President Aquino over the alleged anomalous contract for the maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit 3.

Among the respondents are former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. Roxas served as DOTC chief before Abaya.

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 Balicasan were also accused of plunder.

The DOTr also named former DOTC undersecretaries Edwin Lopez, Rene Limcaoco, and Catherine Gonzales as among the respondents.

A certain Marlo dela Cruz, bids and awards committee members, and officials from former MRT3 maintenance contractor, Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) were also included in the charge sheet.

The 67-page complaint stemmed from the then-DOTC's procurement of goods and services from BURI for the maintenance, general overhaul of light rail vehicles, and the replacement of the MRT3's signaling system.

DOTr Undersecretary Reinier Yebra said plunder complaints against the officials of the Aquino administration were the result of public clamor for accountability on the dismal state of the 17-kilometer railway.

"We at the DOTr were tasked, under the guidance of Secretary Art Tugade, to take a holistic view of what happened in the MRT3, and this is actually in response to the public clamor and cry for accountability for the dismal state of our train system," he said. — MDM, GMA News