By Erick A. Fabian
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is in need of political and bureaucratic housecleaning if it is to remain a functional branch of government.
The recent slew of MRT and LRT-related issues, such as the controversial bidding won by PH Trams CB & T, and the extortion allegations from Czech ambassador Josef Rychtar, has made the public make a second guess on the DOTC’s capability to solve the country’s transport problems before the 2015 ASEAN integration.
As such, the department has proven itself to be dysfunctional and inefficient in its deals, wasting billions of pesos of taxpayer money on bad decisions.
That the DOTC is doubling its efforts in sending out press releases to mainstream media says more about what it refuses to reveal.
‘Transparency’ appears to be one of Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya’s favorite words in interviews and press releases.
What is sad is that there is very little, if any, transparency happening from the ground up.
That the agency has to engage in a round of denials and ‘clarifications’ with Philstar columnist Jarius Bondoc says more about how the DOTC is treating the concerned public.
Bondoc has done a series of analytical articles on DOTC corruption related to the MRT-3 deals, and his exposes have earned him the ire of insiders.
Claims of transparency and stricter regulations on colorum vehicles are being done to simply assuage the feelings of a public fed up with closed-door deals.
The ‘Cavite Mafia’?
As most of our countrymen are being dazzled with the so-called ‘emerging economy’ PR spectacle of Malacanang, President Aquino’s Liberal Party appointees and friends are allegedly forging new deals and alliances.
These operations are supposedly being done to lay down their new political master plans for 2016.
Sources have attested to the existence of a ‘Cavite mafia’ inside the DOTC.
One source claimed that Secretary Emilio Abaya is being used as a pawn by career politicians from Cavite, which includes former Cavite governor Ayong Maliksi, and former senator Ping Lacson.
It is a public secret that this group is reportedly planning for another shot at the presidency come 2016. Ping Lacson is being positioned as a potential presidential bet.
DOTC has a reputation of awarding bids to companies with questionable backgrounds. One of its recent recipients is PH Trams-CB & T, linked to the alleged Czech extortion issue.
One of its contractors, APT Global, had a long list of MRT-3 malfunctions in its record, from fires to tram collisions. These occurrences are turning away commuters who will end up patronizing colorum buses in EDSA instead.
Abaya justifying these decisions show that he is a failure when it comes to prioritizing the safety of commuters. Rather than own up responsibility, his agency has made it a habit to blame protesters and critics in media for the bad publicity.
The Wrong People
The agency is now becoming a hotbed of political games that shouldn’t happen in the first place.
That fixers and corrupt officials are running free in its hallways just means that the current administrators, who are appointees of President Aquino, are ineffective in making any lasting solution to the country’s transport problems.
Having ineffective people in government means we as taxpayers are wasting our money on people who hold the lives and safety of people on the bottom of their priority list.
If the best that the DOTC can do is issue fines and make press releases that belie the spreading corruption in government, then it is time to reconsider.
Abaya and his cohorts may claim to engage in house-cleaning efforts, but such measures will always be ineffective if the ones doing the cleaning are deep in the dirt themselves.
The wrong people will have to leave the DOTC, in order for the right people to come in and make lasting changes.
Otherwise, it’s another train disaster waiting to happen.