Palace ‘to dissect plunder of MRT’

MALACAÑANG vowed Thursday to “dissect the plunder of MRT [Metro Rail Transit]” after two self-confessed whistleblowers came forward to reveal allegedly anomalous activities of former government officials.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said two unidentified whistleblowers he claimed previously were directly involved in the MRT operations had volunteered to reveal alleged corrupt practices in the management of the mass transit system along Edsa.

Roque earlier said new charges might be filed against former Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and former Interior secretary Mar Roxas.

He also indicated the government might take action against its private sector partner in the MRT 3.

“I have documents already. I’m just giving notice to NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] and DoJ [Department of Justice] before I go public with the documents,” Roque told a Malacanang news briefing.

“I promise this will be a continuing activity that we have here, and that is dissecting the plunder of MRT.”

Roque said earlier said the whistleblowers claimed a certain “Pangasinan Group” and a “political machinery” pocketed two-thirds of the payment given to the MRT’s former maintenance provider, Filipino-Korean consortium Busan Universal Rail Inc.

The Department of Transportation last November terminated its maintenance contract with BURI, which was tapped by the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III.

Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian asked the Department of Transportation to determine if the 48 Dalian trains, bought for P3.8 billion from a Chinese supplier—CCRC Dalian Co.—were suitable for use on the Metro Rail Transit 3 rail line.

He noted the controversial Dalian trains that had arrived two years ago had remained in limbo.

He said the DoTr should take immediate action based on the findings and recommendations of the independent auditor, expected to be released later this week.

“I urge DoTr and the MRT 3 management to act on the recommendations of the audit as soon as they are released, so that we can bring the suffering of MRT 3 commuters to an end,” he said.

In the event the 48 Light Rail Vehicles are assessed as unworthy for use on the MRT 3 line, Gatchalian said the DoTr should return the units and demand a total refund.

“It’s a question of suitability. If it is found that these trains aren’t right for the system, the government needs to get our money back. We cannot rely on trains that don’t match the specifications agreed on by the parties in the first place,” the senator stressed.

In January 2018, the DoTr and the MRT 3 management tapped the German firm TUV Rheinland to be the Independent Audit and Assessment Consultant that would evaluate and submit recommendations on issues concerning the unused LRVs.

The report on their assessments are expected to be released on March 10. 

The DoTr said the Dalian trains weighed 49.7 metric tons, which exceeds the maximum allowable weight of 46.4 metric tons found in the contract, making them unsafe to use on the exisiting MRT 3 rails.

The transportation agency also claimed issues in the compatibility of the LRVs with MRT 3’s maintenance facilities and signaling system. 

“The constant ailments of the MRT 3 have left it on life support. The usual medicine won’t be enough to save it. It needs a life-saving treatment. Hopefully, the independent audit will give the government the information it needs to make the right diagnosis and, ultimately, revitalize its operations for the benefit of the commuting public,” Gatchalian said. 

Topics: Metro Rail Transit , Plunder
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