By Christina Mendez | The Philippine Star | November 9, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate subcommittee on public services will resume its public hearing today on Metro Manila’s light rail transit system.

The subcommittee, led by Sen. Grace Poe, had sent invitations to officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), Metro Pacific Investment Corp., and the Center for Commuters to attend the hearing.

Poe initially scheduled the hearing on Nov. 4 but Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya declined the Senate’s invitation, citing a trip to Malaysia. It turned out Abaya had a press conference on the laglag-bala (bullet planting) extortion scam in airports that same morning.

Poe said she would again look into DOTC’s response to address the frequent accidents on the tracks and increasing incidents of train malfunction. Many of the MRT’s trains and tracks have broken down due to wear and tear, with some 650,000 people taking the MRT daily, almost twice its capacity of 350,000.

Poe also questioned the MRT contracts entered into by the government because these employed and sustained the services of companies that do not have the capability to maintain the metro’s railways.

She said the current maintenance provider could not even fix the toilets and other facilities in the train stations.

The last Senate hearing on the MRT was in February, but Poe inspected last September the prototype trains delivered from Dalian, China.