“MRT3 passengers have suffered long enough.” – Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate recently called for the suspension of all new deals involving the Metro Rail Transit 3.
At the same time, they are pushing for a review in Congress of all MRT-related past deals, noting the frequent glitches in services of its trains. The lawmakers suspect that the public are being made to suffer from sweetheart contracts. They learned also from experts that, given proper maintenance, the current light rail vehicles used by MRT should not have been breaking down miserably this year, as it still has 10 more years before developing major mechanical defects.
“As I stated during the last hearing of the House Committee on Transportation, we need to see and examine all the contracts involving the MRT because it seems that we are being duped and short-changed. Palaging ang commuters ang lugi kasi palpak ang serbisyo samantalang bilyon-bilyon ang ibinabayad sa mga kontrata ng MRT na galing sa kaban ng bayan, (It is always the commuters who suffer because of inept services while billions of pesos are being paid from the national coffers to the MRT contractors.)” said Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Colmenares in a statement.
Colmenares is urging for “due diligence” in the government’s signing of MRT deals, citing billions of pesos involved and the lives of millions of MRT3 passengers that might be put on the line. He urged the concerned House committees to hold marathon hearings to get to the bottom of these early mysterious breakdowns in light rail vehicles.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, also of Bayan Muna Partylist, said they would request the House Transportation Committee or even the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to summon past and present operations and maintenance providers of the MRT.
“This issue should not be taken lightly because they are playing with the lives of millions of passengers here,” said Rep. Zarate.
The Bayan Muna lawmakers warned that the daily glitches being suffered by train riders have to stop, and that the government must not wait until it becomes a disaster before it acts.
“MRT3 passengers have suffered long enough,” said Rep. Colmenares.
Go after suspected scammers in MRT/LRT deals
Last week, another party-list group, Anakpawis, demanded that the Aquino administration file appropriate charges against former MRT 3 chief Al Vitangcol, for having allowed his wife’s relative to bag the P517 million LRT/MRT service contract.
Aside from Vitangcol, whose name has been implicated last year in an alleged extortion try with presidential sibling Ballsy Aquino, who denied it, the Anakpawis party-list representative also demanded that the government files appropriate complaints against Vitangcol’s “accomplices from the Department of Transportation and Communication’s Bids and Awards Committee”. Citing how this committee has facilitated the bidding and that the commuters still continuously suffer from poor services of MRT/LRT, Anakpawis said all those responsible should be held accountable.
He said Vitangcol as MRT 3 chief cannot have pulled this act alone. “Rigging the bidding process involves the DOTC, MRT management and the bidders in the process,” Hicap said.
He also said the government should run after PH Trams and demand the return of the P517 million since the bidding process was evidently done under a dubious process.
Anakpawis warned against President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s seeming maneuvers “to absolve Vitangcol from any legal liability,” saying it is similar to what Aquino has been doing in the pork barrel scam case.