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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Government receives unsolicited proposals to take over MRT-3

THE Duterte government has received unsolicited proposals to take over operations of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) in a bid to put an end to the glitches and other problems, Malacañang said Tuesday, March 6.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a press briefing with Palace reporters, said a timetable has been plotted to ensure that ownership of the dilapidated rail system will change before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends.

"There were timetables presented to the Cabinet. There are already unsolicited proposals and there will be an award to be made soon," he said, referring to the Cabinet meeting at the Malacañan Palace on Monday, March 5.

Roque said looking for another MRT-3 owner was seen as a "long-term" solution to address the worsening condition of the rail transit system.

He said the current MRT-3 proprietors are perceived as the ones who also "contributed to problem/s" experienced by the commuting public.

"The long-term (solution to end woes) is to change the ownership of MRT-3 corporation," Roque said.

"As you know, the ownership of MRT-3 is a private corporation. So they are thinking of changing the owners because we have had many problems with the current owners," he added.

The MRT-3, which was designed as a build-lease-transfer project, is owned by the MRT Corporation led by Robert John Sobrepeña.

Frequent technical glitches and capacity issues have plagued the MRT-3, which had often unloaded its passengers in the middle of the tracks.

Roque said the government believed that purchasing new spare parts for the trouble-ridden train system would be a "short term" solution.

The administration's "medium term" solution, on the other hand, was to rehire Japanese firm Sumitomo as the MRT-3 maintenance provider.

In November 2017, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) filed a plunder complaint against nine former Cabinet secretaries, including Joseph Emilio Abaya (Transportation), Manuel Roxas II (Local Government) and Florencio Abad (Budget) over the P3.8-billion contract for the maintenance operations of the MRT-3.

The DOTr questioned the awarding of the alleged anomalous three-year contract to Busan Universal Railways Inc. (Buri), whose officials were also named respondents.

Roque said the current administration was mulling to file a supplemental case against those responsible for the deteriorating state of the train system.

He said Duterte had already asked Solicitor General Jose Calida to study the possible filing of other charges against the individuals involved in MRT-3 woes.

"There was a decision that cases will be pursued for those behind the miserable performance of MRT-3. There are pending complaints for plunder against officials of the previous administrations, specifically for awarding the maintenance contract to a company with absolutely no track record," he said.

"I know there was already a case filed for Buri [and former government officials] but there could be other cases filed as well. There could be new ones because apparently, the problem lies not just with Buri; the problem also lies with the current owners of MRT-3," he added. (SunStar Philippines)
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