By Jarius Bondoc | The Philippine Star | December 14, 2015 

Get out of P-Noy’s shadow, one of Mar Roxas’ five disparate campaign teams has been urging him. Un-beholden to P-Noy, that unit doubts the vaunted magic of P-Noy’s anointment. On the contrary, it believes that Roxas, in echoing P-Noy’s insensitive remarks on hot issues, only pulls himself down. Like, on the “tanim bala” extortion racket (“Mere media sensationalizing”); on slashing income taxes (“Tell me first where you’ll get alternative revenues”); on the MRT-3 deterioration (“All the fault of the railway owner-builder”). The Roxas group studies the numbers. The four-percent rise in his poll ratings in Aug., a week after P-Noy’s endorsement, was but a momentary fluke. Are they right?

Late Nov. Roxas tested the group’s theory. Chatting with editors, he openly contradicted P-Noy on the Philippines’ joining the US-led 12-country TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). It’s a bad idea, Roxas said, because Filipino farmers would be drowned in the influx of cheap, because cleverly subsidized, agriculture products from America. Only days prior at the APEC summit in Manila, P-Noy was begging US President Barack Obama to invite him to the exclusive club of advocates of (discredited, mythical) free markets. Not for the Wharton-grad technocratic Roxas. In veering from P-Noy’s line, he also in effect disputed the path of fellow-Liberal Party Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala. The latter has been wasting precious government resources to subsidize consumer prices of rice, when what needs spending on is massive irrigation and agricultural hi-tech.

Coincidental with Roxas’ stray from P-Noy was the Nov. 26-28 survey on “presidentiables” that included P-Noy’s endorsing power. It showed his endorsement to have a net effect of -6 percent nationwide, and a worse -26 percent in Metro Manila. Yet to be seen, though, is if such figures would convince Roxas to strike out on his own from hereon.

P-Noy, meanwhile, belittles the survey. He told a party of newspaperwomen that if his endorsement was valueless, then how come many politicos are seeking it this election season. He doesn’t know why? Politicos ask for the support of everybody, whether from the Admin or the Oppo or even Hell, so long as it brings money and votes.

* * *

P-Noy also told the gathering that “part of me wants to stay on in Malacañang” beyond his term on June 30. But of course he does, for that is what non-doers in positions of great power – like the over-centralized Presidency – feel. He’d learn from world history and current events that good leaders turn bad when they stop listening to the people and start believing the sycophants. And there are many in Malacañang – all of them blabbering that only P-Noy can get the job done.

One reason P-Noy cites for wanting to stay is to ride the 14 new trains of the MRT-3, which his admin supposedly is improving. What? If he still doesn’t know the multibillion-peso scams of his niño bonito Transport Sec. Joseph Abaya, then he truly is a dolt as his kinsmen attest. Or else, he’s in on that santo santito’s rackets.

P-Noy says there are 14 new trains. That’s news to us. What Abaya publicly has disclosed so far was last Aug.’s delivery of only one of three prototypes of the 48 light rail vehicles (LRVs) he ordered from China.

“Prototype” means “fully functional model.” Yet that new LRV had to be towed by two older units into the MRT-3 depot in Quezon City. Why? Because it had no engine. Meaning, in violation of the P3.85-billion purchase contract, it had not been factory test-run for 5,000 kilometers.

To begin with, the state-owned Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corp. was unqualified for the work. It builds only engineless passenger and cargo trains, not LRVs that run on own traction motors. Needing scrutiny is the non-testing, for on it hinges passenger safety.

To give readers an idea, 5,000 km is equivalent to ten Manila-Baguio or 17 Davao City-General Santos round trips. The Dalian coaches are supposed to be tested under different speeds (40-65 kph), curves, slopes, and weather conditions. Every 500 km the automatic brakes and doors, electrical coach connectors and catenaries, and mechanical bogey wheels and axles are supposed to be dismantled for inspection. For testing too is the compatibility with the signaling system.

None of those were done, precisely because the prototype is engineless. Abaya has yet to replace the signaling system that his LP-mates, whom he has paid P1.85 billion for maintenance, have busted. Only after exposure in this column did Abaya admit to be separately ordering this month traction motors from Germany.

That only means the government is to spend P2 billion more for the motors. Dalian, meanwhile, is to save that same amount in not motorizing the 48 LRVs. Abaya, the LP president and thus chief fundraiser, must answer for that huge amount in this election season.

It’s unlikely that P-Noy is unaware of a separate P4.25-billion scam. He swears to personally follow up the rail works. Two years ago in an event at the MRT-3’s sister LRT-1, he even said that if he and Abaya do not finish the project by this year, he would let the trains run over them (see

Abaya is to award today the P4.25 billion to the same LP-mates whom he paid P1.85 billion for “interim maintenance” that never was. This time, it’s for three years, commencing Jan. 5, 2016. The contract includes the overhaul of only 54 remaining LRVs, from the original 72, that, like the signaling, the LP-mates deteriorated through false upkeep.

The contract was awarded with no public bidding, only closed-door negotiations. It is no different from the NAIA-3 scam, in which German airport giant Fraport pretended to own only 40 percent of the partnership with undercapitalized domestic firm Piatco, when in fact it held an unconstitutional 61.44 percent. In the MRT-3, Korea’s Busan Rails feigns to own less than the constitutional limit on foreign equity in utilities. Supposedly dominant are three unknown Filipino companies, two of them sharing the same tiny office. The three companies are into anything but railways: rice trading, general merchandising, plumbing.

P-Noy definitely will not be able to ride the new MRT-3 LRVs before his term expires. He doesn’t have to have the trains run over him and Abaya. More importantly, he shouldn’t stay any minute longer than noon of June 30, 2016. That’s so he can shed off his cloak of immunity, and Abaya his impunity, and together face charges of plunder.