MANILA - Senator Grace Poe on Thursday urged Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to return 48 overweight MRT coaches to China and seek Japan's help to create a new prototype.
The previous Aquino administration purchased the coaches from Chinese firm Dalian Locomotive Corp. for P3.8 billion.
The government has paid over P500 million of the total contract price, but the Dalian cars remain unusable because they weigh 49,000 kilos, some 2,700 more than the capacity of MRT tracks.
"Dapat siguro ngayon, si Secretary Tugade ay magdesisyon na. Bakit natin aaksayahin ang panahon natin?" Poe told DZMM.
(Perhaps Secretary Tugade should decide now. Why will we waste our time?)
"Puwede ba once and for all, i-cancel na natin iyan (contract) at magpagawa na tayo ng bago? Masaya tayo ang Japan, nais tayong tulungan. Bakit di natin sila kuhanin?" added the lawmaker who chairs the Senate public services committee.
(Can we, once and for all, cancel the contract and have another prototype made? We are happy that Japan wants to help us. Why not get them?)
Japanese firm Sumitomo is already in talks with the Philippines to take over MRT's maintenance, Poe noted.
The Philippines, she said, should not pay the remaining contract price with Dalian and instead go after officials behind the deal, including former transportation secretary Josepy Emilio Abaya.
Abaya and other top officials of the Aquino administration have been slapped with plunder and graft complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman.
"Umaapela nga ako sa Ombudsman, puwede ba, ituloy na ninyo iyang kasong iyan kay [former] secretary Abaya? Ang tagal-tagal na niyan," Poe said.
(I appeal to the Ombudsman, can you pursue the cases against secretary Abaya? That has taken too much time already.)
Poe said she will also summon Abaya, transportation officials and Dalian representatives to another Senate hearing into the MRT mess which affects half a million passengers daily.
Transportation officials earlier this month tapped a German firm to determine whether or not the Dalian coaches were safe to use.