Be sensitive to MRT commuters, Palace tells DOTC

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 28 2014 08:38 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2014 04:39 AM

MANILA - Malacanang on Friday urged the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to be sensitive to the plight of Metro Rail Transit (MRT) commuters who have suffered from long lines and train breakdowns.

However, deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte sidestepped a question on calls for Cabinet members to ride the MRT.

"Tingin ko po nakikita na ho natin. That's why we have been also receiving --- our feedback mechanisms have also been receiving complaints, especially most recently about the MRT," she said. "And our officials in the DOTC have been also hearing about these complaints from ordinary citizens, as well as from those of us in government. So hopefully, they will not be stoic about these complaints."

Valte said President Benigno Aquino is monitoring the progress of efforts to address problems at the MRT.

"Siyempre, alam ho ng Pangulo 'yan. Hindi naman po bulag, bingi, ang Pangulo pagdating sa mga bagay na 'yan. Kaya nga po periodically, the President also checks in with the departments, especially kapag meron pong mga proyekto na kinakailangan para mapaganda po 'yung serbisyo ng pamahalaan para sa ating mga kababayan," she said.

Valte believes there may be a development already in the purchase of additional coaches for the MRT. "Ive-verify ko lang sa DOTC kasi parang meron akong narinig na discussion the other day about 'yung prototype. Kasi kailangan dumating 'yung prototype, ma-testing 'yung prototype, bago maka-order or maka-procure nung mga bagong bagon."

The government must first approve a prototype before it can proceed with ordering trains. "Meron ng timeline din ang DOTC kasama diyan kung kailan dapat matapos 'yung testing nung prototype, 'yung production, kasi we don't buy trains off the rack. 'Yon 'yung isa doon sa mga limitations when it comes to quick access to the trains."

"Hopefully, they're trying to put some measures, some other measures in place to make the daily commute a little more bearable," Valte said.

She added, "We understand the frustrations, really, we do because we have fellows in government who also take the MRT and who also tell us and we, ourselves, see what -- how long the lines are and, you know, that you have to be there earlier because otherwise, you will really be late for work."

"But, I understand that the leadership of the DOTC is working with the MRT to make sure that… Again, one of the challenges that you face when it comes to this is that we can't buy trains off the rack, and whatever they buy they will… Given the amount that is involved would necessarily have to go through the appropriate legal processes when it comes to procurement," she said.

The other day, 8 MRT commuters were injured when the train service abruptly stopped.