MANILA - Senator Grace Poe filed Wednesday a resolution seeking a legislative inquiry into the issues surrounding the maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the purchase of P3.8 billion worth of trains which reportedly turned out to be unusable.
In her Senate Resolution 335, Poe said the MRT has experienced numerous technical problems since the previous administration entered an allegedly anomalous maintenance contract with the Busan Universal Rail Inc. in 2016.
Transportation Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez, the senator said, has cited a Commission on Audit (COA) report to highlight Busan's "low par" and "substandard" performance.
"The COA report stated that from January to December 2016, there were 2,619 train removals, i.e. pullouts from daily runs due to glitches; 63 service interruptions or shutdowns due to problems with the coaches, tracks, power supply, and signaling; and 586 incidents of passenger unloading, at times, thrice a day," Poe's resolution read.
Poe also noted a media report that Busan won the 3-year maintenance contract under unusual circumstances, including the alleged lack of public bidding and the conduct of closed door meetings prior to the deal's approval.
In addition to the purportedly anomalous contract, Poe said the MRT is hounded by another problem: the 48 new trains bought from China's Dalian Locomotive would remain unusable until 2018 because it has no signalling system.
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Dalian's contract, she noted, states that the firm should have installed the signaling system prior to the delivery of the trains to the Philippines.
Poe said the government should examine the contracts entered into by former Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya with Dalian and Busan because "these involve billions of pesos and directly affect and could possibly endanger the safety and convenience of thousands of commuters."
She added that Congress must ensure that corrupt officials would not go unpunished for approving disadvantageous contracts.
Poe directed the Senate committee on public services, which she chairs, to lead the inquiry into the issue.