Chen Aquino | May 13, 2016

MANILA, Philippines – What is in store for the MRT and its passengers? Few days after the national elections, MRT Holdings Chairman Robert Sobrepeña held a press conference last Friday, May 13, 2016 at a hotel in Mandaluyong City.

After the landslide victory of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte through COMELEC’s quick, partial, and unofficial count, Chairman Sobrepena is looking forward to the new government with hopes of resolving the transport problem in EDSA, namely the MRT.

“In our discussions with President-elect Duterte, he’s definitely on board in immediately finding a solution to resolve the problems of the MRT3 project, which is criticial in solving the transport problem on EDSA,” Sobrepeña said.

With the new administration underway, Sobrepeña believes existing contracts will now be followed in hopes of bringing back MRT’s initial maintenance provider, Sumitomo, to do a fast track rehab on the system. The return of the said maintenance provider can ultimately lead to upgrades, capacity expansion, and new trains.

“Ultimately yan ang solusyon natin sa EDSA, na maayos yung mga riles, maayos yung mga bagon, makapagpasok ulit tayo ng mga bagong mga tren at bagon sa MRT3 system para naman dumami yung makakasakay sa MRT3 at mawala yung sitwasyon na siksikan sa tren araw-araw at mawala yung sitwasyon na pila – hours and hours na pumipila ang tao sa EDSA,” Sobrepeña added.

Upon Sobrepeña’s initial meeting with Duterte back in December last year, the former has already advised the latter of the legal structure and the current situation of the MRT3 system, which Duterte wanted to hear from the owners themselves. Another meeting between the MRTH Chairman and President-elect will be set next week.

In a number of speeches, presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte has already publicly expressed his concern and desire to fix and resolve the MRT3 system as one of the first things he would like to do once elected.

“I think President Duterte being a lawyer himself, the very first thing he would want to understand are the contracts, the legalities,” he added.

As for the much awaited announcement as to who the next DOTC secretary will be, no final word yet, quipped Sobrepeña.

In a conversation with Sumitomo earlier today, Sobrepeña explained the maintenance provider’s current budget for the train’s spare parts alone which would range from $40 million - $50 million.

“Ganun kalaki yung kailangan na spare parts na ipasok para maayos lahat and should government sort of finalize the fast track rehab proposal we have with them, in a period of about 9-10 months , the whole MRT3 will be back to where it was in the beginning, ” he pointed out.

Asked about the fast track rehab proposal, Sobrepeña was quick to reply, “The proposal is fast track rehab which can be done very quickly, the next stage would be an upgrade of the system. The upgrade of the system will enable the MRT3 system to accept the new trains so yung upgrade of the system will be in line with yung tawag natin na capacity expansion that means we add more trains.”

Happy that the elections are over, Sobrepeña is also hopeful and optimistic for the new administration which is expected to be led by presumptive President Duterte which he describes as a very decisive person, a person who is action-oriented, and a lawyer therefore honoring existing contracts before anything else.

“Gusto niyang malutas yung problema ng mga pasahero sa EDSA. Ang kanyang priority is mawala yung hirap nung mga tao na pumipila sa EDSA araw-araw. Yun yung palagi-lagi niyang inuulit na sa pag-uusap na gusto niyang matapos na yang problema na yan para sa ganun, everybody can ride the MRT3 system without waiting for hours,” he added.