August 23, 2016 | Philstar | Louella Desiderio
The government is giving greater importance on improving the service of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) than the plan of the previous administration to execute the buyout of the private sector owner of the railway along EDSA.
Noel Kintanar, Transport Undersecretary for rail said the equity value buyout (EVBO) of the MRT-3 is currently not a priority of the government. "Our priority is to improve the service," he said.
The previous administration was looking to implement the EVBO of the private sector owner of the MRT-3, MRT Corp. (MRTC).
Former president Benigno Aquino III issued EO 126 which authorized the implementation of the EVBO of the MRTC by the Department of Finance, Department of Transportation and Communications, Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in 2013.
The buyout was never implemented amid an arbitration case filed by MRTC before a court in Singapore and as the previous administration was not able to forge an agreement with Landbank and DBP which hold a combined 80 percent economic interest in MRTC.
MRTC filed a case against the government in 2009 for the latter's failure to pay the equity rental payments for the MRT-3 on time, as agreed upon under the build-lease transfer agreement.
An EVBO would mean the government will not need to pay for equity rental payments for the MRT-3.
The MRT has been through a series of breakdowns and service interruptions due to maintenance issues.
It also serves way beyond its designed capacity of 350,000 per day, carrying close to 600,000 passengers daily.
Kintanar said the government is committed to addressing the maintenance issues of the MRT-3 for the safety of the riding public.
He said the government is also working on increasing the railway’s capacity, improving the power supply as well as the signalling system.