Ex-LRTA administrator pleads not guilty to graft charges over janitorial services deal

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Former Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) administrator Melquiades Robles on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to his graft charges on the alleged anomalous implementation of a janitorial services contract in 2009.

Robles is charged with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

His co-accused, former LRTA officials Federico Canar Jr., Dennis Francisco, Evelyn Macalino, Marilou Liscano, Eduardo Abiva, Nicholas Ombao, Roger Vaño, Maynard Tolosa, and Juliet Labisto also pleaded not guilty.

Elmo Stephen Triste, on the other hand, refused to enter a plea.

Private respondents Lilia Diaz still has a pending motion for reconsideration, while Dennis Acorda already pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in April.

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The case stemmed from LRTA’s contract with the joint venture of COMM Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation.

Ombudsman investigators said the respondents paid the joint venture P3.37 million per month to deploy 321 janitors.

They, however, allowed the reduction in the number of janitors to be deployed from 321 to 219.

This, the Ombudsman said, modified “the terms of the Contract with the Joint Venture for the Maintenance of the LRT Line 1 System, causing undue injury to LRTA in the amount of P1,072,051.30 per month or P12,864,615.63 in 2009 alone.”

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