Costly space for ads triggers graft raps

GRAFT and corruption charges have been slapped against five individuals–three are former senior officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC)–for alleged anomalous leasing of advertising space by the EDSA MRT 3 to a private firm.

An eight-page complaint-affidavit was filed on October 24 before the Office of the Ombudsman by complainant lawyer Howard M. Calleja against former DoTC undersecretary for Railways Glicerio V. Sicat; former DOTC undersecretary for Administrative Legal Affairs, Finance and Comptrollership Aristotle B. Batuhan; and former DoTC assistant sec-retary for Legal Affairs Raquel Desiderio.

Also named respondents in the complaint were Track-works President and CEO Joselito De Joya and the current DoTC Metrostar Director for Operations Renato San Jose.

Sicat and the four other respondents have been accused of violating Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for failing to conduct a mandatory public bidding before entering into a contract for the lease of the advertising spaces owned by the government as required by RA 9184 or the Procurement Act.

DoTC through Sicat entered a contract on May 27, 2011 with Trackworks for advertising in the EDSA MRT 3’s Buendia, Shaw and Ayala stations.

Calleja stressed in his complaint that the such advertising spaces being “government spaces must be put on bidding for the highest rates.

Consequently, the spaces,  subject  of   this  complaint, are owned by the government and should have been awarded to the highest bidder.

In the absence of a public bidding, the government was unduly deprived of the opportunity to obtain the best rates for its available space,” Calleja lamented.

“Despite the clear mandate of the law, there is no showing that DOTC, put out an invitation to the public for the bidding of the advertising spaces,” the complaint stated. (ITUTULOY)

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