ABS-CBNnews.com | October 6, 2014

MANILA – Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco is urging the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to open discussions with the private owners of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), saying the lack of coordination between the two partners is the cause of the rail system’s problems. “[Transportation] Sec. Jun Abaya’s refusal to speak to the private owners of the MRT is disastrous,” Tiangco said in a statement on Monday.

“It goes against the very essence of a public-private partnership if the public partner refuses to speak to the private owners. This is what is causing all of the MRT problems we have today,” he added.

The lawmaker also criticized the DOTC for not responding to letters of the private owners, describing it as a “neglect of public duty.”

“It is neglect of public duty for the DOTC to not even acknowledge the letters of the private sector warning them of the dangers of a maintenance provider that is not qualified and warning of possible dangers to the riding public as far back as 2012,” he said.

Tiangco was referring to the letter written by MRT Holdings to the DOTC requesting to investigate the competence of the system’s then-maintenance provider, PH Trams, after a train in the Kamuning station caught fire. This letter was allegedly ignored by the DOTC, according to Tiangco.

Another letter was allegedly ignored by the government this year following an incident that led to the injuries of 10 passengers.

Several senators also urged Abaya to consult with the MRT owners at a Senate hearing on October 1.

Robert John Sobrepeña, the former chairman of MRT Corp. (MRTC), said private companies which own the MRT are open to a dialogue with government on how to address technical issues as well as congestion woes that have been hounding the 15-year-old system.

In an interview on ANC last month, Sobrepeña said MRTC and its holding firm MRT Holdings have been “out of the loop” in discussions on how to improve the MRT.