Hannah Torregoza | Manila Bulletin | December 25, 2015

Independent presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares said the awarding of the new, three –year multi-billion maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) needs thorough scrutiny noting it was done when the “people’s attention is elsewhere.”
Poe is referring to the P3.81-billion maintenance contract of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with joint venture Busan Transportation Corporation, Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile, Inc., TMICorp Inc., and Castan Corporation—a Korean-Filipino group which will start on Jan. 5, 2016.
“We undoubtedly need a new maintenance provider to help address the many problems that have caused the suffering of our daily commuters, who deserve public transport that is efficient and reliable. The general overhaul of the MRT trains and the replacement of the signaling system are also long overdue,” Poe said in a statement.
“However, the DOTC owes the public the assurance that the 3-year, multi-billion peso contract is not only above board, but, more importantly, that the winning contractor is competent and qualified to get the job done,” the neophyte senator added.
Poe is chair of the Senate sub-committee on transport investigating the wretched state of the MRT-3 operations.
She said she will ask the agency to provide the Senate a copy of the contract so lawmakers can scrutinize the documents.
“We will ask the DOTC to furnish the Senate Committee on Public Services a copy of the contract and related matters to help ensure that government funds are spent judiciously and the interests of the riding public are protected,” she said.
Poe said it is imperative that the Senate ascertain that  the contract is above-board.
 “A careful review will help banish speculation on the fact that the contract was awarded during the holiday season, when the people’s attention is elsewhere,” Poe said.
“We certainly can no longer bear a repeat of the several unreliable and dubious maintenance contracts the DOTC entered into in the past,” she said.
The DOTC said the three-year contract period will allow the new maintenance service provider to procure the necessary spare parts needed to increase the number of operating trains, especially during peak hours.
The multi-billion contract will also cover the general overhaul of the trains and the total replacement of the signaling system.
“While procuring the long-term service provider, the DOTC engaged subcontractors directly under a multi-disciplinary approach to enhance the efficiency of maintenance works per component,” the agency said.