MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) had assured that the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) would undergo a complete rehabilitation to improve its operations once and for all.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the assurance was made by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade during their conversation immediately before the press conference.
“He (Tugade) assured me that they are going to procure a reliable maintenance contractor; they are building new rails; they are buying new train cars and new signaling system. They are, in other words, revamping almost completely the MRT,” he said.
“And meanwhile, there is a safety audit being conducted to ensure the safety of the riding public,” Roque added.
The DOTr has taken over the maintenance operations of MRT-3 after terminating the contract the previous government had struck with maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) after successive breakdowns of the train system.
The department has also filed a plunder complaint against nine former cabinet members of the Aquino administration over the alleged anomalous maintenance contract with BURI.
Roque said he asked Tugade on what concrete steps the DOTr is undertaking to improve the train system because seeking justice from those liable in the MRT-3 fiasco is not enough.
He said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching orders to his Cabinet is: “Gawin niyo ang tama para sa taong bayan, at gawin niyo ‘yan sa lalong mabilis na panahon.” (Do what is right for the people. Do it as soon as possible.)
“Bago ako nagpunta rito, talagang kinausap ko na muna si Secretary Tugade dahil hindi naman tama nga na sasabihin ko nagdemanda lang tayo at humihingi tayo ng katarungan laban doon sa mga nagkamali, (Before coming here, I talked to Secretary Tugade. It really isn’t enough to file complaints and seek justice from those who erred),” he said.
“Hiningi ko rin kay Secretary Tugade ano ‘yung mga hakbang na ginagawa at gaya ng sinabi ko kanina eh talagang halos complete rehabilitation na ng MRT ang gagawin (I also asked Secretary Tugade on what steps are being taken regarding this matter. Just as I said earlier, an almost complete rehabilitation of the MRT needs to be done),” Roque said.
But Roque admitted that the government could not give a timeline on when the problems besetting the rapid transit system would be finally resolved.
“It’s very difficult to set a deadline. I think Secretary Tugade knows that we’re looking up to him for a solution. We’re crying for a solution and we’re crying for a quick solution and I’m sure that Secretary Tugade and Usec. (Cesar) Chavez are really taking all the necessary steps,” he said.
He added that the termination of the BURI contract is also “a legal quicksand” that may also cause a delay in the planned rehabilitation.
BURI representatives have said that the company would seek arbitration of the case.
“You see, the rule in Obligations and Contracts is although you can unilaterally rescind, you do so at the risk of being overruled by the courts,” Roque said. (PNA)