Maricel Cruz | Manila Standard | February 8, 2017

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker on Monday urged Congress to look into allegations the Metro Rail Transit-3 management had approved the payment of P2.7 billion to its Chinese train supplier although they were not when delivered operational.

Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles questioned MRT-3 OIC-general manager Deo Leo Manalo over what the lawmaker described as "over-enthusiasm" in endorsing a 70-percent payment to Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp. amounting to P2.7 billion for the purchase of 48 new MRT coaches which were delivered but were practically unusable due to the absence of some components and the lack of critical tests and documentation.

Nograles stressed the administration was being put in bad light by the continuing mismanagement of the MRT-3 under Manalo as he noted that persistent breakdowns of the MRT-3 was becoming a major source of resentment of many Filipinos.

"This is very unfortunate, because the MRT was once seen as a symbol of the past administration's incompetence and therefore people have high expectations that things will get better under the present government," said Nograles, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations.

"The present MRT 3 management is failing our people and is giving the Duterte administration a bad name. Manalo should really shape up and make sure he is protecting the interest of our commuters and not these big business interests and contractors," Nograles added.

Nograles said Manalo's position the government should already pay P2.7 billion out of the P3.8 billion purchase contract for new MRT coaches without even making sure that all the units that were delivered were working and compatible with MRT system was absolutely reckless and irresponsible.

"What happens if it turns out that all these coaches are not compatible with our present system? Can Manalo make a guarantee that Dalian would immediately replace them after giving them the P2.7 billion downpayment?" Nograles asked.

Before paying Dalian, Nograles said the MRT3 management should first exercise due diligence by conducting all the necessary test and by ensuring that all specifications stipulated in the purchase contract were fully complied with to make sure people’s taxes would not go to waste in case the coaches that were delivered were defective and incompatible with the present MRT system.

"They should at least wait for all the coaches to be fitted with all the on board electronic and mechanical components and conduct tests, including inter-operability test with the old MRT coaches before we make the payment. I can't understand why Manalo is in rush to pay Dalian. If you do it, do it right," Nograles said.