By: Ernie Reyes | | May 13, 2015

MANILA, Philippines -- Senator Grace Poe blasted Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya on Wednesday, saying he had broken the promise he made during budget hearings for the upgrading of the Metro Rail Transit as technical glitches, system breakdowns and a dire lack of trains continue to plague the system.

“Simple lang po ito. Nang manghingi ng karagdagang pondo ang DOTC, binigyan sila. Nang magtaas sila ng pamasahe, nagkumahog ang ating mga kababayan upang makapagbayad. Ngunit patuloy ang mga aberya sa mga biyahe ng tren (The issue is simple. When the DOTC asked for additional funds, they were given the money. When they raised their fares, people scrambled to pay. But the trains continue breaking down),” Poe observed.

“Papaano maseserbisyuhan ng mababa pa sa sampung tren ang higit kalahating milyong pasahero araw-araw (How can less than 10 trains serve more than half a million passengers every day)?” Poe said. “Ang kawalan ng malasakit ng DOTC, MRT-3 at APT Global ay hindi na maaaring ipagkibit-balikat na lamang (The lack of concern of the DOTC, MRT-3 and APT Global can no longer be ignored).”

“We have sat through four long public hearings and requested the Department of Transportation and Communications to undertake certain actions for the betterment of the MRT-3 but up to now, more than three months have passed since the last hearing in February, not a single report was submitted to the Senate sub-committee on transportation showing compliance or status update to what we have agreed upon,” Poe said.

Earlier, Abaya acknowledged that maintenance provider APT Global has only been deploying eight to 10 trains instead of 20 required during rush hours.

“My understanding is that the DOTC should be penalizing or sanctioning APT Global based on their contract. If indeed they are penalizing APT Global, it seems that such is not enough to deter APT Global from doing a lousy job. On top of that, the maintenance provider’s contract with the DOTC has been extended several times,” Poe said.