Ted Cordero | GMA News | November 21, 2017

More than P200 million in potential revenues will be lost should the Department of Transportation (DOTr) give in to calls to temporarily stop the operations of glitch-marred Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).

"Our average monthly income is P236 million," Transportation Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez told GMA News Online, quoting MRT3 chief finance officer Ellen Naidas.

"'Yan ang mawawala per month at 'yan din ang madadagdag sa hihingin nating subsidy sa government para pambayad ng equity rental payment sa MRTC," Chavez added.

According to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, MRT3's earnings go to an escrow account intended for payment of government obligations under the Build-Lease-Transfer agreement.

The government has been paying the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) an average P2.7 billion per year in equity rental payments under the Build-Lease-Transfer (BLT) agreement signed in 1997.

Under the 25-year BLT agreement, the government is in charge of the daily operations of the MRT3 while the MRTC was in charge of its construction. The government pays the private consortium return of investment in the form of equity rental payments.

This year, the government has allocated P4.8 billion in subsidy for the maintenance and operations of the MRT3.

"The average government subsidy per year is P5 billion," Diokno said.

After a train car detached from the rest of a train running between Buendia and Ayala stations last week, Senator Grace Poe suggested the temporary shutdown the operations of the MRT3 to ensure its safety for its 500,000 daily ridership.

The option to stop the operations of the light railway transit is still being seriously considered by the DOTr.

Apart from the thousands of commuters riding the MRT system, the DOTr is also considering the financial implications should it stop its operations.

"Any decision on MRT3 will primarily be driven by passengers' safety and convenience. Financial considerations are secondary compared to these," Transportation Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Leah Quiambao said.