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Senate inquiry on MRT may finally get somewhere



Former Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) told the Senate committee looking into the problems of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 that he signed a maintenance contract with a new company without checking on the background of the company.

“There was a presumption that the organization – that the bureaucracy – was doing its job,” he said.

Thus, relying on the organization in the DILG that approved everything about the MRT3 before he was appointed, Secretary Abaya just signed his name to the contract with PH Trams CB&T, which took over from the previous maintenance firm Sumitomo. PH Trams CB&T was a new and small company, incorporated only two months earlier with a capitalization of about P625,000. The maintenance contract was for P50 million a month.

Perhaps if Abaya knew these circumstances about the new maintenance company, particularly its evident lack of experience, he would not have signed that contract. But he said he relied on the staff at DILG. He relied on earlier decisions made by the previous secretary, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

Senator Poe’s Senate Committee on Public Services began its new inquiry last Monday and has a long way to go. It has other issues on its agenda, including the purchase of trains from China that cannot be used until 2018 because their signaling system, which is from Korea, does not go with the current MRT system, which is from Germany.

Inevitably, the Senate inquiry will focus a lot of attention on the maintenance system which is believed to be at the root of so many glitches over the years – trains stopping between stations forcing passengers to walk back along the tracks, doors opening in transit, long lines of passengers waiting for rides because there are not enough trains and trips during the rush hour.

Secretary Abaya’s testimony did not clear him at all. He only admitted he did not do what his job called for – to check for himself that everything he was signing was aboveboard. He fell back on the excuse that the DOTC staff had done its work. He said he relied on the judgment of the previous DOTC Secretary Roxas.

Senator Poe was asked if she would next summon former Secretary Roxas and she said no, as of now, lest the public think she is politicking. The senator should know that the problems at MRT are such that the public just want better and safer services. And if certain prominent ex-officials are somehow involved with the previous mismanagement, now would be a good time to clear the air, long before the next elections begin to affect some decisions.

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  • Nelson Sin

    Excuses, excuses, excuses. Blaming others for his stupidity and corrupt practises. Charge this corrupt Abaya and everyone involved in this MRT mess for plunder and locked them up for life. Go after all their money, properties, etc. to pay for this robbery. Aquino, Abad, Alcala, etc should be tried next for plunder and thrown in jail. These are the people who made life miserable for our people and should pay for their crime if we are to survive and prosper as a nation.

    • Charges had been filed against Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya but Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales does nothing! Maybe wait for July 25, 2018 to file charges after she retires…

  • dennis12dec .

    The quality of service of MRT 3 is already at its worst due to the mismanagement & incompetence of both Roxas & Abaya, they should be held liable for the mess they created. I already stop taking the MRT when travelling from QC to Makati, its better to take the bus particularly P2P ones which theirs are more better than the MRT. If the quality of the system hasn’t change ASAP, its better for the MRT 3 to stop its operations and close down for good!