MANILA - Senator Grace Poe on Thursday called on the government to pursue charges against transportation officials responsible for the purchase of P3.8 billion worth of trains that turned out to be unusable.
"Ang laki na ng nagastos natin diyan. Sana naman iyung sinasabing pagbabago, hindi lang limitado sa iilang bagay. Iyung mga talagang nangurakot, ikulong at hindi pakawalan," Poe said in a phone interview with radio DZMM.
(We have spent so much on that. The change that the administration promised should not be limited to just a few things. Those who pocketed public money should be detained and not released.)
The previous administration in 2014 bought 48 trains from China's Dalian Locomotive to improve the services of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), which ferries roughly half a million passengers daily on average.
The new trains however are unusable because they need a signaling system and lack safety certification from an independent third party, Undersecretary for the Rail Sector Cesar Chavez recently said.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, said she will call for a legislative probe on the issue as soon as Congress opens next week.
Among those who will be summoned to the probe is former Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya who approved the deal with Dalian, said Poe.
"Ang kalihim mismo, hindi dapat makalusot. Alam ko siya rin ang pumayag d'yan dahil siya ang nakaupo -- si Secretary Abaya. Siyempre kailangan kong ipatawag," the senator said.
(The secretary should not be absolved. He was the one who approved that, Secretary Abaya. Of course, I have to summon him.)
"Pasensya na kung retired na kayo ngayon at nagpapahinga kayo, pero iyung ginawa ninyong perwisyo sa ating mga kababayan, you don't deserve to have a rest. Kailangan niyong ieksplika kung anong nangyari d'yan," she added.
(I'm sorry if you're already retired and resting, but with the inconvenience you caused to our fellow countrymen, you don't deserve to have a rest. You need to explain what happened.)
Poe said her Senate committee will come up with a recommendation on the filing of charges after their investigation.