Palace official vows to ride the MRT amid train issues

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2017 02:11 PM

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. Valerie Escalera, Malacanang Photo/File

MANILA - Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said he might take the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) to go to work so he could empathize with the plight of the public relying on Metro Manila’s busiest yet ill-maintained rapid transit system.

Roque said the government is doing its best to rehabilitate the MRT-3 line without sacrificing the needs of the public relying on the mass transport system, which traverses the busy Epifanio delos Santos Avenue and connects Quezon and Pasay cities.

He said he could not give yet a timeline on when transportation officials can fully resolve the issues hounding the MRT. He instead offered to ride the train so he could see the problems firsthand.

“I wish I could give you a deadline. All I can offer you is once a week to take MRT to come to work,” Roque said in a news briefing.

“I can do that so I can complain to the MRT people. Maybe I’ll do that once a week.”

Towards the end of the press briefing, however, Roque offered to meet the media at the “Katipunan station” which is not one of the stations of the MRT.

He then noted that the MRT line is far from his office in Malacañang.

Under the previous administration, former transportation chief Joseph Abaya also took the MRT to conduct a “safety visit” amid glitches experienced by the train system.

Abaya, however, drew flak for his move.


The presidential spokesperson, meanwhile, citing Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, said the MRT-3 system will undergo a “revamp” under the Duterte administration.

“He (Tugade) assured me they are going to procure a reliable maintenance contractor, rebuild new rails, buy new train cars and new signalling system. In other words they are revamping the MRT system,” Roque said.

The transportation department recently terminated the contract the previous government had struck with MRT maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc. following successive breakdowns in the operations of the train system.

Roque admitted the decision of the administration to terminate the contract with BURI creates a “legal quicksand,” noting that “although you can unilaterally rescind [a contract], you do so at the risk of being overruled by the courts.”

The transportation department has also filed plunder and graft complaints against Cabinet members of the Aquino administration over the same issue.

“We must stress that the great suffering of the riding public as a result of the failure to deliver on the responsibilities of public office such as the case of the current state of the MRT 3 systems carries consequences and that those accountable will be held liable,” Roque said of the complaints.