Press Release
February 2, 2015

Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's questions at the MRT hearing

Sen. Grace Poe: On maintenance comfort rooms

DOTC Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya: The maintenance of the rest rooms is clearly a responsibility of the maintenance providers. They are currently on renewal of contract on a month-to-month basis, our direction is to replace them. Unfortunately, we had two failed biddings. We really wanted an open and transparent bidding. Not everything in the procurement process is in our control. These are comfort rooms designed way back 1999. Admittedly, sabi nga ng mga pasahero, kulang ng cubicles at sa sikip, wala na rin halos pagkakataon pumasok sa CR. Ang DOTC rin ay nasa proseso ng isang malaking procurement para isaayos lahat ng banyo at di lang ang banyo ng MRT at airport pati lahat ng opisina ng DOTC. Currently, as reported by Director San Jose, nag-de-deliver na ng materials. Tutukan namin ang pagsasaayos ng mga comfort room.

Poe: Nagdedeliver na ng materials? Ano po ang timeline natin dito?

Former MRT Director Renato San Jose: Sa nakaraang hearing, ang pangako po namin sa inyo ay magdadagdag ng elevated water tanks dahil mahina po ang pressure at hindi nakaakyat sa mataas ng stations ang tubig. Sa budget ng 2015, nakapag-allot po tayo ng P5M para mag-install ng elevated water tanks sa 13 o lahat ng istasyon ng MRT. Hopefully, by next week nasa pre-procurement conference na. We hope to be able to install in the next 3 moths Poe: That sounds promising---in the next 3 months, installed na?

San Jose: For the stained tiles, project ng DOTC na palitan lahat ng CR at sa ngayon ang supplier ng lahat ng materials--tiles, granite, fitting ay nagsimula nang mag-deliver. We hope to complete in the next few days. Dumating na ang contractor for civil works, mag-coordinate kami para sa kaagarang pag-replace, pag-aayos. Simulan muna ang repairs ng PWD (persons with disability) CRs, after tuloy sa women cubicles, pagtapos babalik sa men cubicles. In the meantime, pag nagsimula ang works maglagay ng additional portalets para matugunan ang pangangailangan sa isasarang CR.

Poe: Ulitin ko lang po, tatlong buwan para sa pag-install ng water tanks para magkatubig. Fittings granite etc, idedeliver na. Kailan po tayo makakaasa ng total rehab? It will take longer, but basic function should be there, put a sign that restrooms are out of order. When is the timeline for total rehabilitation?

Abaya: Comfort rooms should be able to actually works as soon as granite and other fittings arrive hopefully, in the next two months kumpleto na. Gagawa agad ang civil works contractor. Ang usapan with the contractor, lahat ng istasyon, sabay-sabay ang trabaho. PWD restrooms sabay-sabay na gagawin sa lahat ng istasyon--30-45 days. After nun, women, then male CR. We expect that by the end of this year or early next year kumpleto na.

Poe: I'd like to instruct the committee secretary to coordinate with timeline mentioned.

Abaya: For MRT3, we have a new general manager, Engr. Roman Buenafe will be the point person for MRT. For DOTC, Dir. Euilin, she's overseeing contract for repairs.

Poe: We narrow it down to point person so that there's less confusion and we know someone is responsible for it. I know it's just one aspect of the many concerns that you have. Dir. San Jose, you're no longer with DOTC?

San Jose: I am, ma'am, but I am back to my old post as director for operations.

Poe: The general manager is now Director Buenafe. I'm sure you will help in the smooth transition. This is just one tiny aspect and I'm sorry that we had to ask all these questions but I guess it is the easiest to answer at this point. Do we have a representative from the maintenance? Mr. (Alan) Ortencio (consultant, APT Global)? Ano bang ginagawa ninyo, diba responsibility at least malinis facilities doon?

Ortencio: Systems actually ay may kalumaan. Ang maintenance provider po ay tasked to restore lang. Hindi namin gagalawin ang original systems and assets.

Poe: Sabi ninyo sa last hearing na may inventory ng parts para sa train? I would assume na sa facilities na ganun, dapat meron ding replacement? Ortencio: Tama po iyon.

Poe: Bakit hindi ninyo ginagawa?

Ortencio: Nasa design system na po ang may problema. Sa asset na iyon. Hindi namin magagalaw ang original design.

Poe: Anyway, o sige nandoon na ako. Kaya nga sinasabi ko dapat maglagay na ng mga water tank. Pero may mga ibang sira doon, katulad ng mga flush, na pwede niyo namang bilhin kahit na saang hardware pero hindi niyo naman ginagawa. I would recommend that penalties be strictly enforced in this maintenance provider and I would like to request also the secretary to follow up on the penalties already collected from this company because I'm sure it there is in the contract that if they are not able to deliver there are subsequent penalties involved. And I'd like to see that the government collecting and enforcing the penalties based on the responsibilities that they were not able to fulfill, Mr. Secretary.

Sec. Abaya: Yes Ma'am. They have been heavily penalized, we could show to you the penalties imposed and continue to be impose

Poe: Aren't they being paid about 54 million pesos a month on maintenance?

Abaya: P57 million

Poe: P57 million. So what you do in terms of penalties is you remit less of what is owed them, correct?

Abaya: Yes ma'am. We deduct what we consider as penalties for non-performance and we give them whatever the balance is.

Poe: I would like to get a copy of that so that the riding public knows that something is being done about this and you cannot go scot free without actually fulfilling what you have agreed to fulfill. May we now proceed with your presentation sir?

Abaya: Before the presentation, just a few items I would like to comment on. On the fare increase, truly, if you compute for the end to end, it would reflect the highest increase but on an average basis, the LRT1, LRT 2 and MRT-3 increased around 40%. That is already considering an average passenger taking an average trip. Very clearly, the picture would show the long lines, the real solution to this is the addition of rolling stock, we have procured 48 trains, probably what the public and madam chair should know is it was the private sector who filed a case against us, and filed a TRO. This was something that I couldn't fathom when the public was already crying that we need more trains and the government was all ready to buy. Now, we're faced with a TRO, when in fact there is a like case in the Court of appeals, that a TRO could soon be granted. If that happens we cancel the 48 trains, and it all goes down the drain. That is the reality given the relationship that we have.

Poe: I share your frustration. I can understand also. We are trying to move forward. There are certain interests that are being protected. Both sides but I would like to say, you said you procured 48 trains, am I correct?

Abaya: Yes ma'am.

Poe: But aren't you supposed to receive first a prototype to see if this actually compatible.

Abaya: According to the contract it will arrive August this year.

Poe: So you procured before actually seeing if the prototype will work? Abaya: When the trains are manufactured, they don't come off the shelves ma'am. You can't just pinpoint to a store and the train is readily available. So specs are provided to the manufacturer and we continually engage with them such that when a prototype is produced, it would then be in accordance with our system.

Poe: So sir, just for arguments sake, they deliver the prototype and we find it highly defective, what happens now?

Abaya: then it is their obligation to produce a functioning prototype. It would be subject to penalties, to breach if they don't comply.

Poe: And the company Dalian, on the top of your head, can you remember which train systems they have worked with all over the world? Do they supply?

Abaya: MTR Hong Kong.

Poe: So they supply the MTR?

Abaya: Yes, there are other items ma'am, this is the first time that I sat since I was appointed as DOTC secretary that we have upgrade ad rehab. All the previous years were payment to the equity rental payments (ERPs). But only now, the government along with the Congress and Senate, that we are investing in upgrade and rehab. There has not been any at least during my term and even during the term since 2010.

Poe: The DOTC never requested for a rehab budget or is it because of the recent accidents that it is just now that we are conscious about this that we request the DOTC?

Abaya: Actually, all the capital expenditures is actually an obligation of the private sector. We felt that they weren't in a position to do so, thus we are stepping in, to a much needed long overdue rehab.

Poe: That's right. The maintenance, should have been provided by the private honors right? So is it the MRTC that should have been responsible for it?

Abaya: Yes.

Poe: MRTC?

Abaya: MRTC.

Poe: But if we say that the MRTC is just really a part owner and already considering that their interest has already been sold to the DBP and Landbank, right? Isn't it the government should have been the one to step-in in the first place. I mean DBP and Landbank should have done that?

Abaya: It is the MRTC who fully owns the facility ma'am. The government is only in there for economic benefits. The political decision making of the board remains with the private sector, majority.

Poe: So it's just the economic benefits of the government.

Abaya: Yes the proceeds of the bonds are 80% with Landbank and DBP. Last item before we go to the presentation. You mentioned there have been years of maintenance neglect. Actually ma'am MRT-3 has been operating for the last 15 years, the government only stepped-in in the last 2 years. So 13 of the 15 years was with the private sector. Those are just factual figures that we would like to present to you and it will be unfair to say that we ruined it all in the last 2 years when way back in 2008 and 2009, it was reflected in the MTR Hongkong report that it was already part of the system report back then.

Poe: I appreciate, for the record, that you have stated this. In fact that is true, the government as you say only stepped-in in the last 2 years. Tragically though, the last 2 years has seen the fastest decline in maintenance and also performance. Also because of the age of the train, we concede to that. But now that we have it, we have to make sure since the government is assuming responsibility because of the lack of performance being given by the maintenance provider, which by the way the government was also the one to grant rights to this maintenance provider. We should be able to step up to the challenge now, and assure first and foremost the safety of the passengers. So I would like to know the timeline that you have sir and also with your budget where you are actually allocating it. If you have nothing more to add before your presentation.

Abaya: Can I proceed with the presentation?

Poe: Yes sir.

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