Press Release
May 23, 2017

Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's Opening Statement
Public Hearing on MRT 3 issues

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. This hearing is called to order.

We are here again today because of the never-ending problems of the MRT. Just yesterday, the MRT unloaded passengers thrice during the morning rush due to technical problems.

Although the MRT problem may be old news to some, it is still a problem that our commuters have to go through or experience on a daily basis. Hindi tama na tatanggapin na lamang natin ito dahil lumang isyu na siya. We have to remember na buwis natin ang ipinambabayad sa malalaking kontrata para mapaayos at mapagana ang mga tren.

Previously, a series of incidents that happened during the Holy Week compelled us to hold a public hearing. Apparently, the MRT trains experienced a derailment, not once but twice.

As far as trains are concerned, a derailment is a grave matter that could have resulted in catastrophic consequences. These were life-threatening incidents. Pero tila hindi natin nauunawaan talaga kung ano ang derailment. The DOTr perhaps can explain that better to us. Perhaps, they can also explain what caused the derailments and why this happened even after the annual maintenance check-up. What did the maintenance provider, itong BURI, did not do or do, that led to these?

Last week, we traced the MRT's history of bad maintenance service. It seems the government entered into a series of short-term contracts with companies with little track record and dubious competence, hastily put together to bag the juicy monthly maintenance fees.

At the apex of this government agency, in charge of the MRT, was the apparently clueless former Secretary Abaya. He claimed he had no knowledge of the background of these maintenance providers or other matters that should have forewarned a more diligent leader from pushing forward.

He further claimed, that he was propelled to approve one of the more dubious service providers, PH Trams, because the contract with the existing contractor at that time, Sumitomo, was about to end or had ended. He made it appear, that if he had not immediately approve the contract of PH Trams, the maintenance of the MRT trains would have stopped.

But I doubt that this is true. Apparently, the DOTr can easily put together a transition team that can address the technical maintenance of the trains while looking for another service provider. They have done this before with the LRT. The trains will not stop and service can still continue.

Hindi naman pala kailangang pumasok sa isang bagong maintenance contract kaagad dahil patapos na yung kontrata ng Sumitomo. Pwedeng gumawa ng isang transition team na pansamantala pero hindi nila ginawa ito at kung ginawa man ay doon pa rin sa mga dubious o walang track record na kumpanya.

May mga sariling technician din ang DOTr at meron din silang mga gamit na maaaring maarkila. Dapat kasi pag-aralan mabuti ang maintenance contract bago pasukan ito. Milyones ang halaga nito kada-buwan, kaya hindi dapat madalian.

But it wasn't just the former secretary whose performance has left much to be desired. His subordinates, who played key roles in the awarding of the maintenance contracts, who were members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), appeared unaffected by the perennial problems of our MRT trains, responding to our questions with their magic word "compliance."

Mr. Lotilla, former Undersecretary, claimed they "complied" with the law, and therefore, nothing more was to be said--as though public service is simply about compliance; as though BAC members are not required to do due diligence themselves, but can just pass on the responsibility of the decision-making to the Technical Working Group.

Mr. Limcaoco, the Undersecretary who was head of the negotiating team for the BURI deal, and Ms. Gonzales, former Undersecretary for Procurement and Administration similarly shrugged their shoulders and said that they did what they could do. Pero sana naisip nila na sila at hindi ang TWG ang makakasuhan kung may palpak sa kontrata. The BAC should therefore have exercised more caution.

There are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered, like who is this Marlo dela Cruz whose name keeps popping up? The Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) failed to serve last Friday, May 19, 2017, the Subpoena ad Testificandum issued by this Committee, and approved by the Senate President, on Mr. Marlo dela Cruz for the reason that Mr. dela Cruz does not reside in the address indicated. The address was sourced from the General Information Sheet (GIS) that his company PH Trams submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC).

Based on the OSAA return on the service of the subpoena, the house with that address was previously registered under the name of Wilfredo dela Cruz who, according to our sources is Marlo's brother.

My initial sense on this is on Marlo dela Cruz' apparent propensity to trifle with official government rules, be it on the submission of accurate information on the GIS as required by law or on compliance and respect with the provisions of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Today my office received a letter from Atty. Richard Leonard A. Cruz of LEYNES LOZADA-MARQUEZ LAW OFFICES who is the counsel of Marlo dela Cruz in his Sandiganbyan case involving his culpability surrounding the MRT Maintenance Contract anomalies. Atty. Cruz advises this Committee on the propriety of compelling the attendance of his client in this legislative inquiry invoking

1. the sub judice rule as there is already a pending case against his client; and

2. his client's right against self-incrimination.

May I remind Mr. Marlo dela Cruz and his lawyers that the sub judice rule is not appicable in legislative inquiries as the purpose of this inquiry is in aid of legislation. Secondly, Rule 19 of the Senate Rules explicitly provide that "No person can refuse to testify or be placed under oath of affirmation or answer questions before an incriminatory question is asked. His invocation of such right does not by itself excuse him from his duty to give testimony" or at least show up in this hearing, magpakita man lang sa hearing na ito.

Thus Mr. dela Cruz can validly invoke such right only when a question propounded to him tends to elicit an anwer that will incriminate him. And even when invoked, the Committee still has to determine whether such right is properly invoked.

May I thus request the OSAA to proceed to the office of LEYNES LOZADA-MARQUEZ to furnish the lawyers with a copy of the Subpoena and secure the correct address of Mr. Marlo dela Cruz.

Mr. Ruehl Bacar from CB&T, who used to be his business partner, is here to shed light on Mr. dela Cruz' identity.

Mukhang hindi rin nagkakasundo si Mr. Deo Manalo, ang kasalukuyang MRT Director for Operations at ang mga representante ng DOTr. Ano ba talaga ang totoo at dapat paniwalaan ng mga tao? Do both Mr. Manalo and the DOTr share the same opinion that the MRT maintenance deal with BURI should be terminated?

Is it also still possible to have a train system that is reliable and affordable? The LRT seems to be managed better. We do not hear of any controversies regarding service providers and the trains do not break down as often. Pero sa MRT, halos kada linggo nasa balita dahil may problema ito, ang LRT kung may problema man sasabihin nila, mahina ang aircon.

I believe that we should not tire in hoping and pushing for a safe, reliable, and efficient train system. We should rid ourselves of the "bahala na, ganun talaga" mentality. Hangga't magagawan ng paraan, hangga't mayroong dapat managot, dapat tuloy natin iyang pinakikialaman sa isyu na ito.

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