Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan | BusinessWorld | November 22, 2017

The government may resort to emergency procurement for Metro Rail Transit's (MRT-3) maintenance contract.

"Most likely emergency procurement, we cannot wait several months. That's not an off-the-shelf transaction," Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in a briefing yesterday.

Republic Act 9184 or the Procurement Reform Act allows the government to directly negotiate with a contractor in cases of "extreme urgency and necessity," subject to the supervision of the Government Procurement Policy Board.

However this is only one of the options that the government is looking at for the future of the commuter line's operations.

Mr. Diokno said that it is also considering Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan's unsolicited P20-billion rehabilitation proposal, which is being reviewed.

Such a proposal is subject to a Swiss Challenge, opening the project for counteroffers from other investors, which the original proponent can match.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) has blamed Busan Universal Railways, Inc. (BURI) for disruptions to service since January 2016, leading the government to terminate its contract.

The DoTr currently manages both the operations and maintenance of the train system.

BURI has said that the disruptions were due to "design flaws" and that breakdowns in the system were occurring even under previous maintenance providers dating back to 2000.

In late October, the DoTr filed graft charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against then Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya along with 10 former transportation officials and 10 BURI incorporators for alleged irregularities in the maintenance contract.

In September, BURI filed a complaint against DoTr Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez and two other respondents for nonpayment of maintenance fees amounting to P176 million.