By Paolo Romero | The Philippine Star | October 15, 2014

MANILA, Philippines - Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo recommended yesterday the filing of economic sabotage and other charges against concerned government officials for the spate of accidents at the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).

Castelo, chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development, strongly opposed the proposal of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to shut down the MRT for maintenance work.

He said the series of accidents and breakdowns at the MRT-3 was caused by negligence and disregard for public interest by the concerned officials from the government and the private sector.

“Heads should roll. Nobody should be exempt from liability because of omission. Negligence and incompetence at the expense of the public should have its price. The public, first and foremost, should be protected and recompensed,” Castelo said.

He said the APT-Global, the maintenance provider contracted by the DOTC, “mishandled the maintenance of the MRT-3 and deserves to face economic sabotage charges.”

The lawmaker said his panel is set to undertake an inquiry into the state of MRT-3 as well as the possible liability of APT-Global.

Castelo declined to name the DOTC, MRT-3 and APT-Global officials who may be held accountable.

“The maintenance was only sourced out to one company and we are now moving in Congress to have APT-Global blacklisted because time and again it failed to perform adequately the operation of the MRT,” he said.

Lawmakers had earlier warned of more accidents and breakdowns at the MRT-3 as APT-Global has admitted that it has depleted its store of stock rails, which were handed over by Sumitomo, the previous maintenance provider.

Castelo warned against shutting down the MRT-3, saying ”it could bring untold miseries for workers who depend on the cheap mode of transport, and unfathomable economic losses for business firms.”

“However, if technical experts see the necessity of a shutdown in consideration of the maintenance work, then we should strike a balance between what we can afford to do and what we cannot under the circumstances.”

“Foremost is the safety of the riding public. Hence, there should be an in-depth study before they close operation. They should offer alternative solutions. Total shutdown without alternative is unacceptable,” he added.