Press Release
October 10, 2017


A total of P526 million in taxpayers' money went down the drain in purchasing 48 China-made light rail vehicles (LRVs) for MRT which turned out to be overweight and incompatible with existing facilities, Sen. Grace Poe said, as the Senate leadership backed the filing of charges against former officials involved in the deal.

Poe reiterated her call for the government to run after former officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) who made a mockery of the ordeals of the riding public in the guise of MRT's well-publicized capacity expansion.

"Parang tapon na nga ang pera na yan. Kaya nga dapat managot yung mga dating pumasok diyan. Why are we prolonging the agony?" Poe said late Monday night during the plenary debates on the DOTr's proposed P70.4 billion spending program for 2018.

A total of P526 million has so far been paid by the government to Dalian Corp., out of the P3.8 billion deal. But out of the 48 LRVs that were delivered, only 29 have signaling system installed and the Transportation department was still in the process of running tests on the trains.

Also, all 48 trains weigh not less than 49,000 kilograms each, way above the required 46,300-kg under the terms. The allowable tolerance limit should only be two percent or 926 kgs.

"It's just common sense. You haven't even filled it with passengers yet the train is already overweight and our rails might not be able to take it," said Poe.

She said these findings are "grounds for canceling the order" and possible return to the Chinese company which manufactured the trains, as in the case of Singapore.

"Malaki nang pagkakamali ito. Para bang ang ginagawa natin, meron tayong sapatos na hindi kasya, puputulin natin yung paa natin para magkasya doon. Huwag na lang nating isugal kasi kung hindi talaga maipipilit, it's better to move on," she said of DOTr's plans to make the Dalian trains work.

The DOTr earlier said it was considering returning the incompatible coaches to China. The trains would have been operational by mid-2017 and there would have been longer four-coach configuration to accommodate more passengers.

"It will be a costly and long litigation but we should have a contingency working in another way to procure while there's ongoing litigation," Poe said, referring to a possible bidding and subsequent purchase of reliable trains which she admitted may take years to complete.

Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services that initiated a full-blown investigation into the MRT, also sought support from her colleagues as she said she was poised to recommend raps against key ex-Transport officials in the MRT mess.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, chair of the Senate finance subcommittee defending the agency's budget, concurred.

Told that the DOTr is still finalizing the charge sheet, Pimentel said the accountability of past officials is "obvious" considering the overweight train, while Ejercito, for his part, said "we cannot go on wasting people's money."

As regards the issue of the maintenance services provided by joint venture Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), Poe said more interruptions have been recorded despite monthly payments of P54.5 million to the maintenance provider which cause "distress and inconvenience to the riding public."

The senator, who called out BURI for non-performance of their obligations to provide a safer MRT and procure parts from the original equipment manufacturer, said there are "more interruptions and they are getting worse," especially with the seeming daily glitches that hound the 16.9-kilometer elevated railway system.

Poe earlier blasted BURI for buying the train's automatic protection system from an auto shop in Bangkal, Makati identified as Diamond Pearl Development and Marketing Corp., which was owned by William and Marlo dela Cruz, who were associated with the maintenance provider.

Poe said she may call for another hearing on the MRT and asked assistance from the Senate to locate the whereabouts of Marlo dela Cruz, who snubbed previous Senate hearings.

She said BURI, which is now billing the government for P4 million, should have bought the parts from Canadian firm Bombardier, which manufactures the safety equipment for MRT.

"It is part of the contract that they [BURI] should be getting original parts for MRT. Sila mismo ay hindi sumusunod sa kontrata na pinirmahan nila," Poe said.

"This is not only disadvantageous to the people but it also poses a danger to the public. They are being negligent and did not follow the agreement that they signed," she stressed.

The DOTr is finalizing its option to terminate BURI's contract for non-performance of its contractual obligations, default and inconvenience, and may go for a negotiated procurement for a new maintenance provider.

"We understand the gravity of the situation. Even if that's a negotiated procurement, it needs to have transparency. The company that will bag the contract should have the track record, capability and enough capital to be able to sustain the maintenance," Poe said.

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