Inquirer.net | September 23, 2017
The government cannot pay a maintenance contractor of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 because of a number of irregularities, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Friday.
For one, DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez said maintenance contractor Busan Universal Rail Inc. (Buri) was billing the government P4 million for uncertified equipment.
Chavez said in a statement that the DOTR would be remiss in its duties and would be violating many laws if it paid Buri, which was contracted by the Aquino administration, for the 17-kilometer line.
"In short, Buri is asking the government to reimburse it for its deficiencies, compensate it for its failures and pay it for its nonperformance," Chavez said.
Buri is demanding reimbursement for its purchase of a P4-million vehicle logic unit (VLU), a highly specialized equipment that functions as the train’s automatic protection system, made by Canadian multinational Bombardier.
"But Bombardier claimed that no such equipment had been ordered from them," Chavez said.
Chavez said the DOTr discovered that the VLU was purchased from an undercapitalized shop, called Diamond Pearl, in Bangkal, Makati's automotive repair row.
"And who owns Diamond Pearl? The same characters associated with Buri," Chavez said.
The DOTr later learned that one of Diamond Pearl's incorporators was Marlo dela Cruz, whom lawmakers blamed for the malfunctions plaguing MRT 3.
In a House hearing, Rep. Jericho Nograles tagged Dela Cruz as one of the people who allegedly tried to extort $30 million from Czech train maker Inekon.
"The COA (Commission on Audit) rule is that spare parts procured must have a certificate of origin, manufacturer's inspection report, certificate of warranty, invoice receipt, inspection report," Chavez said.
"In the absence of any of this, there is no green light to proceed with payment. Or the government official who will order the payment will be liable for graft," he said.
More importantly, the DOTr cannot approve Buri's demands for payment because of Buri's "performance or the lack of it."
According to Chavez, there were 3,824 instances of train removals, 833 cases of unloading incidents, 98 service interruptions and 6 derailments from January 2016 to July 2017.
"If you look into the particulars of each, almost all can be attributed to maintenance neglect," Chavez said, adding that six cases of train derailment is "unacceptable and unprecedented."
"There is only one standard here: zero derailment. In the aviation industry, this is the equivalent of a plane crash," he said.
According to Chavez, the company has racked up P27.5 million in penalties for "substantial failure to meet [key performance indicators] like failure to deploy 20 trains during peak hours."
"You are so slow to serve. And yet, you want your payment to be railroaded? That is unfair to the people," Chavez said.