Press Release
May 3, 2017


The Senate will summon again previous Transportation officials in a legislative inquiry as Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the public services committee, has decided to wade back into the investigations, this time focusing on "unusable" trains worth P3.8 billion which the government has ordered from a Chinese train manufacturer.

Poe filed Senate Resolution No. 355 to look into the newly delivered twin-section light rail vehicles (LRVs) built by Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. that will remain inoperative because the trains intended for the capacity-burdened EDSA Metro Rail Transit (MRT) have an incompatible signaling system to keep safe distances between trains.

"Ang mismong kaha o yung tren mismo gawa sa China, yung signaling system gawa sa South Korea, at yung makina gawa sa Germany. So kung sasabihin mo, yan ang malaking chop-chop diba--kung saan-saan galling," Poe said.

"Let's say it's not unusual to have parts from different countries but at least the delivery should have the complete package. But what we've seen during the last administration, the first round of delivery, it was such a hype. Yun pala tren lang na walang makina. So hindi rin makaandar," Poe lamented.

Poe said her panel will invite former Transportation Sec. Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya, ex-MRT General Manager Roman Buenafe and other officials involved in the purchase of the LRVs, as well as current Transport officials--Sec. Arthur Tugade and Transport Usec. for Rails Cesar Chavez.

The lady senator said lingering questions remain as to why the previous administration failed to check the compatibility of the design of the trains, despite much hype about MRT's capacity expansion and that more commuters would be accommodated.

"There's something that they [past Transport officials] didn't do that's why these things aren't compatible... The parts that they ordered aren't even compatible with each other," said Poe, referring to the 49,000-kg weight of the Dalian trains, but the existing rails can only carry a maximum of 48,000 kgs.

She said the Senate, in the exercise of its oversight functions, "should ensure a safe, decent and efficient public transportation system; thus, inept and corrupt government officials should not go unpunished for entering into anomalous and patently disadvantageous contracts in the public transportation sector."

At the same time, Poe called for an inquiry to look into MRT's existing maintenance contract with Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), a Filipino-Korean joint venture that started maintenance and restoration works in January 2016 on the ageing MRT, which has been operating since 2000.

In her resolution, Poe, citing several memoranda sent by Usec. Chavez to BURI over its supposed "non-performance," said the joint venture should explain why its P3.8 billion contract should not be rescinded over poor maintenance works on all 73 coaches and overhaul of 43 coaches. However, no coaches have been turned over, delivered or accepted despite the agreement that 17 of 43 should have been initially overhauled.

Poe then urged Transport officials to "improve the time in motion and the number of trains and the comfort of the passengers" since an efficient mass rail transport is "the best mode of transport" in the traffic-strangled metropolis.

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