by Kristine De Guzman | CNN Philippines | February 4, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Transportation officials get a failing mark.
This was the clear message of a Senate subcommittee report on the investigation into the deterioration of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) system.
The report described what MRT commuters put up with every day — the lack of coaches, poor maintenance of trains and platform facilities, and deteriorating rails.
Questionable deals and contracts also hound the MRT, which could bring transport officials to court for graft charges.
But Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya remained unfazed.
He insisted all MRT contracts signed under his watch were clean and fair.
“Wala kami kinababahala, malinis konsensya namin, mahigpit pinapatupad ang procurement law. So kumpyansa kami na regular ang procurement at level ang playing field at wala kami kinatigan,” Abaya said.
[Translation: “We have no worries. Our conscience is clear and we strictly implemented the procurement law. So we are confident that the procurement was regular, the playing field leveled, and we did not favor anyone.”]
Abaya also slams the report for favoring Robert Sobrepeña, former chairman of MRT Corporation - MRT's private owner. Sobrepeña and the DOTC are in a word war.
The Transportation Department blames the Sobrepeña group for the sorry state of the MRT. But Sobrepeña disputes this, saying the DOTC has repeatedly refused their proposals.
Former MRT-3 general manager, Al Vitangcol, who is facing graft charges for awarding an MRT maintenance contract without public bidding, insisted he would not have done it without the DOTC's go-signal.
"Ang mga dokumento nalang po ang magpapatunay kung sino ang mga nakapirma,” Vitangcol said.
[Translation: “Let the documents show who signed them.”]
While the subcommittee report showed everything wrong with the MRT, the DOTC argued it failed to mention the improvements on the system.
For commuters however, the report is concrete proof that they deserve better.