MANILA - Malacañang on Saturday said halting operations of the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT) could not be easily done given the number of people relying on the mass transport system.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that while the Palace acknowledges problems surrounding the MRT, stopping the train system's operations would disrupt the economic activity of around half a million commuters.
"While we acknowledge that the MRT-3 problem cannot be solved overnight, we must also consider the 500,000 commuters that rely on the MRT-3 system daily. Stopping the MRT-3 operations may disrupt the economic activities of these people," Roque said.
The official made the statement after Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, demanded answers from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) following frequent incidents at the MRT, most recently the detachment of a coach.
The big question, Poe had said, was whether or not MRT operations should stop.
The MRT, which runs the length of EDSA and ferries over half a million people a day, has been heavily criticized for numerous glitches over the years.
Roque said the Palace shares the riding public's concerns over its safety, adding that "we are all in agreement that we need to rehabilitate and upgrade the MRT-3's current condition."
"We assure the public that the DOTr (Department of Transportation) maintenance team is working overtime to ensure the safety of the entire system. Suggestions to shut down the operations of the MRT-3, however, need further consideration," he said.
"We are doing all we can and we will not rest until the riding public will get the service they truly deserve," he added.
Despite concerns over the train's safety, MRT operations director Michael Capati has maintained that it is still safe to ride the metro rail.
"Lahat po ng tren na ating nilalabas po ay safe and functional," he said.
(All trains that we deploy are safe and functional.)
Transport officials on Thursday announced that MRT operations would be shortened by an hour to give more time for maintenance activities.