GMA News | October 10, 2017

The government has wasted P3.8 billion on the purchase of incompatible trains for the tracks of the MRT-3, said Senator Grace Poe as she grilled Department of Transportation (DOTr) officials in a budget hearing for the department on Monday night.

Poe wanted to know what happened to the Dalian trains bought from China, which were supposed to be operational this year, and learned that the new train cars are apparently too heavy for the worn tracks of the MRT-3, according to a report by GMA News' Athena Imperial on "Unang Balita."

"Ano ba talaga ang balak gawin ng DOTr para ayusin ang MRT-3? At saan nila ginamit ang pondo ng MRT-3 Capacity Expansion Program last year? Ano nang nangyari sa mga bagong trains na galing sa Dalian? Meron na bang napatakbo maski ni isa?" Poe asked.

To this, Senator JV Ejercito said the mass of the 48 Dalian light-rail vehicles are beyond the "tolerance limit" of MRT-3 tracks. Ejercito sponsored the proposed DOTr budget.

The MRT-3 tracks, he said, could only withstand 926 kilograms, or two percent of the mass of the Dalian trains. The Dalian trains weigh no less than 49,000 kilograms.

"Wala pa hong laman yung Dalian trains, yung mga bagon, ay parang puno na ho sila, so there's an audit ongoing whether the tracks, the system can withstand the weight," said Ejercito.

In April this year, Transportation Undersecretary Cesar Chavez said these trains did not have a signalling system.

Poe slammed a suggestion to repair the trains in order to make them compatible with the tracks.

"Malaki na kasing pagkakamali ito. Para bang ang ginagawa natin meron tayong sapatos nga na hindi kasya, tapos puputulin natin yung paa natin para magkasya doon," she said.

To Poe's claim that billions of pesos have been wasted on the Dalian trains, Transportation officials said only P526 million have been paid so far. For his part, Ejercito said DOTr's legal team may file complaints against those involved in the procurement.

"The legal department of the DOTr is studying the option of filing cases against the officials who ordered or were responsible for the procurement of the said Dalian trains," said Ejercito.

Lawmakers will continue deliberations on the P70.365 billion budget appropriation for the DOTr and its sub-agencies for 2018.