Poe hounds Abaya over new MRT-3 maintenance contract
Senator Grace Poe is asking Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to produce the negotiated contract between the government and the Korean-Filipino consortium that will conduct maintenance operations on the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).
Poe, chair of the Senate sub-committee on public services that is looking into issues surrounding the MRT maintenance, said she wants to review the P3.8-billion contract with the consortium following Abaya’s pronouncements that Busan Transportation Corp., which operates Busan Metro in South Korea, would no longer back out from the deal.
“Maganda naman na hindi sila umatras kung sila lang talaga ‘yung may technical know-how kaya lang nga po eh tingnan natin ‘yung kontrata. Ito po ay negotiated contract and wala man lang tayong kaalam-alam kung ano ang mga probisyon ng kontrata na ‘yan,” she said in a recent radio interview.
(It’s good that they are no longer backing out and that they have the technical know-how, but we still need to take a look at the contract. This is a negotiated contract, yet we know nothing about its provisions.)
“Sabi ko nga hanggang ngayon, hinihingi pa rin namin ‘yung kopya ng kontrata na iyan. Marami nagsasabi na, ‘yan ba ‘yung original na contract o na-revise ba iyan to make exceptions para hindi umatras ang mga Koreano,” she said.
(As I’ve said, we have been asking for a copy of the contract. Many are asking if it’s the original contract or a revised one to make sure that the Koreans don’t back out.)
The three-year maintenance contract was awarded on Christmas Eve last year to the Joint Venture of Busan Transportation Corporation, Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile, Inc., TMICorp Inc., and Castan Corporation.
Poe said the committee has already asked for documents from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) during its previous hearings last year but has not received the pertinent contracts from its officials.
The difficulty in securing documents such as government contracts, she said, underscores the need for the Freedom of Information Act, which she has been pushing for since she was elected senator in 2013.
“Alam mo naman ‘yung sistema natin dito ng hustisya at byurukrasya. Nakakalungkot. Kaya dapat ipasa na nga natin ‘yung Freedom of Information Act sapagkat kalokohan itong mga naitatagong mga ganitong bagay sa atin,” she said.
(You know the system of justice and bureaucracy here in the country—it’s sad. That’s why we really need to pass the Freedom of Information Act into law because it is a mockery how these things (government contracts) are hidden from us.)
Poe said she would immediately schedule a hearing on the MRT maintenance when Congress resumes session on January 18. She, however, expressed frustration that lawmakers can only do so much to correct any failings on the part of national agencies.
“Sa Senado o sa Kongreso, ang dami mong gustong gawin, hanggang sa pagdinig ka lang. Pero ‘yung talagang pwedeng mag-alis sa kanila o kaya pwedeng umaksyon ay sa ehekutibo lamang,” she said.
(In the Senate or in Congress, while we want to do so much, we can only conduct hearings. But the real branch which has power to remove them or act on these things is the executive.)
“Kami kasi sapagdinig para sa batas, rekomendasyon. Kaya nga nakakainip talaga ang ganitong sitwasyon na wala kang kapangyarihan.”
(We are only mandated to conduct hearings in aid of legislation—just to recommend. It’s frustrating to be in a situation you have no control over.)
Poe was among those who have been calling for Abaya’s resignation but President Benigno Aquino III has stood by Abaya, who he said would stay until the end of his term in June this year. IDL