Abaya sued over MRT, LRT ticketing system

By Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2014 01:10 PM | Updated as of May 06 2014 07:10 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - A consumer group filed a complaint against Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and three other members of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Bids and Awards Committee over the impending new ticketing system for the MRT and LRT, a project worth P1.1 billion.

The complaint was filed with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Atty Oliver San Antonio, legal counsel of the National Federation of Filipino Consumers (NCFC), said that one of the affiliates of the winning bidder, AF Consortium, has a pending case versus the Philippine government in an international arbitration tribunal in Singapore, a violation of existing bidding rules.

The AF Consortium, composed of Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., submitted a bid of P1,088,103,900 for the Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) project.

San Antonio is referring to the case filed by Ayala-led Manila Water with the International Chamber of Commerce challenging the order of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to cut its rates.

San Antonio also said that the winning bidder's contract may result to higher fares for the riding public because of a condition set by the winning bidder that they will only pay the balance to the government if ridership increases to 2 million to 4 million when recent studies show that ridership is only around 1 million.

Another reason for higher fares is that the since the ticketing system will be privatized, government subsidy will no longer be implemented.

'Project completely aboveboard'

Meanwhile, Abaya said the laws and rules were properly followed in the AFCS project’s bidding process.

"We were sure to follow all bidding rules and processes very carefully. The process was completely aboveboard. This is why we are ready to face this complaint – as long as what you do is right, you have nothing to fear," he said.

He said they have not received an official copy of the complaint.

"We will review the complaint once we receive a copy, but we are not worried since we know that there was nothing irregular in the bidding out of the project," Abaya said.

The MRT-LRT single ticket is envisioned to be like Hong Kong’s Octopus Card, which serves as a debit card, aside from being a stored-value train ticket. The single ticket could also be used for other modes of transportation such as buses, paying toll, electronic banking, and even shopping.