Roxas urged to scrap Northrail project

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

MANILA — A debt watchdog on Saturday asked incoming Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II to thumb down a proposal reviving a controversial China-funded railways project.

The department earlier concluded that the North Luzon Railways (Northrail) project set to be financed by Sinomach (formerly China National Machinery and Equipment Corp.) was aboveboard.

Emmanuel Hizon, Freedom from Debt Coalition vice president, said that Roxas should prove himself as an asset in President Benigno Aquino III’s fight against corruption by cleaning his own backyard.

The advocacy group also called on Senator Franklin Drilon to reopen the Senate investigation on the project, which cost ballooned from $421 million to $621 million from cost-overruns.

Critics of the deal alleged that the Northrail project failed to undergo a competitive bidding process and that the Buyer Credit Loan Agreement between the government and Sinomach was not able to secure a clearance from the Monetary Board.

Hizon asked Roxas to review the results of the earlier Senate investigations on the project, “since he was a senator at the height of the Northrail controversies.” (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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