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Poe wants Abaya, DOTC officials probed for graft for neglecting MRT -3

/ 09:43 PM February 03, 2016
MRT transportation Manila Edsa

MRT crowd INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

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MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe said there were “strong indications” that Department of Transportation and Communications officials led by Secretary Joseph Abaya violated the anti-graft law for neglecting the problems hounding the Metro Rail Transit 3.

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Poe, in the her report as chair of the subcommittee on public services, recommended that the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice and the Civil Service Commission investigate the DOTC officials for graft.

BACKSTORY: Abaya to be sued for MRT mess—Poe

The committee had conducted five public hearings on the condition of the MRT.

“In the course of the inquiry with regard to malfunction problems of the MRT3, the Sub-Committee observed the badges of negligence and inactions of the [DOTC] officials led by Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, indicating insensitiveness, callous indifference and acts disadvantageous to the commuters, the Filipino public and the Government,” Poe said in the 45-page report.

She said the subcommittee report should be submitted to the government agencies “for appropriate actions.”

The report “must be considered as initial leads as there are strong indications of violations of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

Poe earlier called President Aquino to replace Abaya, describing the transportation secretary as incompetent and short-sighted.

She said the country needed a DOTC chief who would keep a close watch on the problems besetting the rail system.

She also warned that the safety of commuters taking the MRT has been at risk, since there has been no daily maintenance of train brakes and wheels. She added that inspections for cracks and daily testing of signaling have not been done daily.

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The situation has become “critical,” she said earlier.

READ: What Grace Poe saw when she took the MRT

In her report, Poe also said the DOTC’s contract with Dalian for the purchase of 48 light rail vehicles, which was was awarded without the required consent of the MRT Corporation [MRTC], was “highly suspicious on several grounds.”

Poe said the DOTC chose Dalian to provide new LRVS even if the company “has no established impeccable reputation as a manufacturer of LRVs.”

The LRV delivery has been delayed, and the initial ones sent did not have motors as Dalian was only relying on another corporation to supply them.

“Taking into consideration the foregoing, the DOTC’s award to Dalian of the contract for new LRVs is clearly too late and delayed as the need to acquire new LRVs to respond to the exponential increase of the MRT3’s ridership has already arisen as early as 2004,” she said.

She also questioned the DOTC’s motive considering that it ignored other proposals.

“It is as if DOTC has been waiting all along for a ‘friendly’ bidder that could ‘cooperate’ with the DOTC, especially due to reports of a prior bribery attempt in relation to Inekon,” she said.

The injury to the riding public and the government were apparent, she said.

“Unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference might have been accorded to Dalian,” she said.

“Accordingly, DOTC might have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith in relation with MRTC or, simply, gross inexcusable negligence in allowing the MRT3 to deteriorate by not immediately implementing capacity expansion by purchasing new LRVs to cater to the exponential increase of MRT3’s ridership through the years,” she said.

She noted that the MRTC had been pushing for the purchase of additional LRVs since 2004. It repeatedly wrote to the DOTC to call for capacity expansion, but the department never responded.

Poe noted that several DOTC officials from the Arroyo government were retained in the department during the Aquino administration. Thus, it was highly doubtful that the DOTC did not have the institutional memory of the MRTC’s first call for the capacity expansion and purchase of LRVs.

The present DOTC leadership might argue that the officials from 2001 to 2010 should be punished for the inaction on the LRV purchase, but she said this would not hold water because the inaction spilled over beyond 2010.

READ: Poe hounds Abaya over new MRT-3 maintenance contract

She also took note of reports of an alleged bribery attempt on LRV manufacturer Inekon, a top company in the Czech Republic.

Furthermore, the DOTC refused, for reasons known only to it, to hear out the proposal of Sumitomo Corporation, the original and former maintenance service provider of the MRT.

Sumitomo had wanted to return as service provider so long as it would also be tasked to rehabilitate the railway system.

Poe’s subcommittee report also said the MRT fare hike in December 2014 was an act in bad faith.

On the dispute regarding the common station for the MRT-LRT linkage, she said the government, especially the DOTC, should honor its agreements and contracts and should settle once and for all where it should be located.

The report also recommended:

*  The immediate rehabilitation of the physical structure of the MRT such as trains, track work, station facilities, with the cooperation of stakeholders and relevant groups;

*  The establishment of a National Transportation Safety Board, which would act as the central independent agency that would investigate transportation issues and conduct safety inspections;

*  The replacement of the current maintenance contractor;

*  The agreement on maintenance milestones, with corresponding rewards and sanctions for over and underperformance;

*  The issuance of vouchers for refund or fares during service interruptions, and the provision of shuttle buses and umbrellas for stranded passengers;

*  The consideration of forging a termination to arbitration and buy-out of the MRT3.

Poe also said the government must be sensitive and must care for Filipino commuters.

“The need to address this issue is urgent as our transportation infrastructure is greatly tied with our economic development,” she said.

Poe’s subcommittee report was submitted as a memorandum to Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, chair of the mother committee, who assigned her to handle the MRT3 malfunction issue.  SFM

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TAGS: Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Benigno Aquino III, bribery, Civil Service Commission, congressional hearing, congressional inquiry, corruption, Czech Republic, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation and Communications, DoTC, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Grace Poe, Graft, Inekon, investigation, Joseph Emilio Abaya, legislative hearing, legislative inquiry, Metro Rail Transit 3, Nation, negligence, news, Office of the Ombudsman, oversight hearing, Philippine Congress, Philippine president, Republic Act 3019, Senate, Senate subcommittee on public services, Sumitomo Corporation
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