ABS-CBN News | November 26, 2017

Sen. JV Ejercito on Saturday said he hopes Sumitomo Corp. will return as maintenance provider for the MRT-3.

"Ang maintenance provider will be crucial. Now that (undersecretary) Cesar (Chavez) is gone, I'm hoping that, call me biased, pero ako talagang Sumitomo . . . I'm hoping that Sumitomo comes back. Kasi unang-una, sabi nga natin reputable Japanese company," Ejercito, chairman of the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, told radio DZMM.

"Pangalawa, sila na iyong nanggaling na rito. May experience na, they have an idea or knowledge already of the MRT system. So ako siguro that's the immediate [solution], if you can convince Sumitomo to come back."

The MRT-3 has been in hot water lately for increasing passenger offloads and an incident involving two train cars being detached from one another.

Chavez on Thursday resigned as transportation undersecretary for rail and said he was taking responsibility for the train incidents.

Ejercito added that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) should get a maintenance provider that invests on spare parts.

"Ang kailangan mo dyan, alam iyong sistema. Pangalawa, iyong mag-i-invest on spare parts. Palagay ko iyon ang magiging problema. Itong mga nanalong maintenance providers after Sumitomo, they did not invest on spare parts," he said.

A check with spare-parts supplier Bombardier showed that "not a single" part was procured from the company since 2013, according to Chavez.

Ejercito, meanwhile, said he is still hopeful that emergency powers will be given to President Duterte to address the country's traffic problem.

"Ako gusto ko pa rin talaga maipasa ito. Unang-una, projects that will fall under the emergency powers will have the exemption from (temporary restraining orders). But to have check and balance, only the Supreme Court can issue a TRO," he said.

However, the Senate has yet to approve Senate Bill No. 1284, which grants Duterte emergency powers, because the DOTr has yet to present its plans to solve the traffic situation, according to Ejercito.

"I understand also iyong dilemma, if you want detailed engineering plans, medyo matagal iyan. That would take about 6 months up to 1 year. Probably that's one of the reasons bakit hindi makapagbigay talaga ang DOTr," he said.

In a statement, Sen. Grace Poe called on Malacañang to certify SB 1284 as urgent.

"Siguradong gagalaw ang emergency powers kung gagawin ng Malacañang na prayoridad ito at sesertipikahan para rin makatulong sa mabilis na pagpapatupad ng mga proyektong magpapaginhawa sa trapik," the statement read.

The DOTr earlier this month terminated its maintenance contract with Busan Universal Rail Inc., a Filipino-Korean consortium, tapped by the previous government.

The government's contract with Sumitomo expired in 2012.