Jess Diaz | Philstar Global | September 24, 2017

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) should file a plunder case against Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), the maintenance provider for the breakdown-prone Metro Rail Transit 3, a lawmaker said yesterday.

Rep. Jericho Nograles of party-list group Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta made the appeal days after BURI went to court to compel the government to pay it nearly P200 million in maintenance fees.

"DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade should file plunder charges against BURI and former transportation officials who were responsible for the anomalous P3.8-billion MRT-3 maintenance contract," he said.

He said the maintenance provider is trying to "shake down and harass" the government into making additional payments and honoring the contract "that has already cost taxpayers at least P650 million."

Tugade has repeatedly vowed to terminate the deal, though he has not done so despite the daily breakdown of the Edsa rail system.

"Secretary Tugade should stop procrastinating and should serve notice to BURI that the government is immediately terminating the maintenance contract because the lives of more than 500,000 MRT-3 daily riders are at risk," Nograles said.

He said the decision of BURI to go to court "means that there is no more trust between the government and its MRT-3 maintainance service provider."

Just last week, he said the EDSA rail line "suffered a series of breakdowns on an unprecedented scale and this should already alarm Secretary Tugade."

"These repeated breakdowns are getting worse each day. MRT-3 never had a day without any problem. It even suffered three breakdowns in just a single day," he added.

Nograles suggested that Tugade assemble a transition maintenance team to replace BURI.

He said Tugade should also come up with a solution to the maintenance and ownership problems plaguing the Edsa rail system.