By Azer N. Parrocha
MANILA, July 28 (PNA) — Taking its cue from Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on Tuesday urged the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) owner to drop its bid to stop the addition of 48 new train cars to the rail system.
In his SONA, Pres. Aquino took a jab at the Sobrepeña-controlled MRT Holdings, Inc. (MRTH) for blocking the government’s efforts to obtain a solution to the MRT-3’s lack of train cars.
In February 2014, MRTH, which used to manage the affairs of MRT’s contractual owner MRT Corp. (MRTC) and is now its controlling shareholder, filed a case for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against the DOTC to stop the latter from adding new trains in February 2014.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati initially issued a TRO, but eventually sided with the DOTC and ruled against MRTH. According to the RTC, apart from the fact that only the Supreme Court may enjoin such a project, public interest must prevail in this case.
MRTH, however, appealed its case to the Court of Appeals (CA), which also sided with the DOTC and the public by denying the same.
The case is still pending with the CA as MRTH is seeking a reconsideration of the appellate court’s decision.
“…Because the MRTC was adamant, they were able to obtain a TRO on the procurement. That is why the MRT situation has come to this,” Pres. Aquino said in his SONA.
“The private sector relegated their responsibility to us; when we made moves to provide a solution, they blocked us. It is clear that our agenda and that of the MRTC will never meet,” he added.
He, however, assured that the DOTC is taking steps to buy out the corporation so that the state will be the sole “decision maker.”
DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya reiterated Pres. Aquino’s call to MRTH to heed commuters’ clamor to have no more delays to the addition of train coaches to the system.
“The riding public deserves a much better MRT-3 than what the private owner is providing. That is why we exercised political will to add new train cars ourselves,” Abaya said in a statement.
“Not only did MRTH fail to add them (trains), they even filed a case to stop us when we did,” he added.
The DOTC chief said that MRTH’s case against DOTC was a case against new trains and a case against the public.
He meanwhile guaranteed the public that government was fighting the case for public interest. (PNA)