Ellson Quismorio | Manila Bulletin | October 5, 2017

A House leader welcomed on Thursday the imminent cancellation of the controversial Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) maintenance contract awarded to Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI), but stressed that charges must still be pursued against erring parties.

"It's about time," Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said in reaction to news that the Department of Transportation's (DOTr) legal department has agreed to the termination of the P3.81-billion BURI deal, which according to some is the root cause of all of the MRT3's operational woes.

"Now that it's terminated, charges should be filed against those officials who committed malfeasance, misfeasance and graft," the Mindanao solon said.

Barbers is chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.

During a hearing Wednesday by the House Committee of Good Government and Public Accountability, DOTr Undersecretary for Legal, lawyer Reinier Yebra confirmed that DOTr is now pushing for the termination of the contract.

"We recommended the termination of the BURI contract and now we'e awaiting for the verified report from the MRT-3, after which we will recommend to the Secretary (Arthur Tugade) to issue a notice to terminate," Yebra told lawmakers.

As early as July, DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez submitted to Yebra a position paper calling for an end to the maintenance contract amid the worsening glitches of the 18-year-old MRT. Tugade had concurred with the position paper.

The BURI contract, which was entered into by the previous administration, began in January 2016.

"As for the private sector, if any, charges should also be filed," Barbers said.