MANILA, Aug 6 (PNA) — One month after the start of the multi-discipline approach to maintaining the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) system initiated by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the transport agency reports that the MRT-3 is now able to deploy up to forty-five (45) coaches during peak hours.
This belies earlier claims by various individuals that the railway system is now down to only four to seven trains. The DOTC is also dispelling other lies being perpetuated about the MRT-3:
•On the claim that the MRT-3’s failures are a result of the last 3-4 years only:
This betrays an utter lack of understanding of the problem. The root cause is the onerous Build-Lease-and-Transfer (BLT) contract which provides for grossly disadvantageous terms against government. These include the requirement to pay billions of pesos per year to the private owner, regardless of whether the latter performs its obligations such as adding coaches.
Clearly, the lack of trains is the fault of the private owner, which should have done so as early as the mid-2000s.
•On the claim that the DOTC had Php 5-B in its 2014 budget for train overhauling:
A blatant lie purports that the DOTC had Php 5-Billion in its 2014 budget for overhauling MRT-3’s trains. It is clear that there is no such entry. There was only a P 4.5-Billion appropriation, which was for the addition of trains.
Thus, the DOTC procured 48 new coaches in 2014. However, private owner MRT Holdings II had the temerity to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the addition of trains, which in the first place, was its obligation to the public which it did not perform. The prototype of these coaches is set to arrive within the month.
•On the claim that DOTC forced MRTC to transfer the maintenance requirement:
The fact is that MRTC gave DOTC extremely short notice that it could no longer procure a maintenance provider, passing the responsibility of procuring a new maintenance provider to the DOTC. This was only around 2 weeks before the contract’s expiration, which period left DOTC with no choice but to resort to emergency procurement in order to ensure the continued safe operation of the train system.
Section 3.3 of the BLT contract clearly states that MRTC is responsible for providing maintenance works.
•On the claim that the emergency contract was awarded to an unqualified company:
A malicious attempt to mislead the public alleges that procurement laws were violated in order to award the emergency maintenance contract to an undercapitalized and newly-incorporated company, PH Trams, which had no track record to speak of.
This is a complete lie. The emergency mode of procurement resorted to is explicitly permitted by the procurement law, Republic Act No. 9184. In fact, while the law allowed the DOTC to negotiate directly with only 1 contract, the agency even invited three groups to submit proposals in order to dispel any appearance of favoritism. All these groups had sufficient track record: Sumitomo, Comm Builders & Technology (CB&T), and Miescorrail.
Moreover, no contract was awarded to PH Trams. It was awarded to a joint venture formed by CB&T, which is an entirely different legal entity. CB&T has a long history of performing maintenance works for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 system, and as such, provided the financial and track record requirements for the joint venture to satisfy procurement criteria. Section 23.1(b) of RA 9184’s implementing rules explicitly allows this.
•On the claim that building maintenance is the biggest multi-discipline:
This is another blatant lie, easily-verifiable from records, which supposes that the 6-month building maintenance contract has the highest amount from the seven disciplines awarded in the past two months.
But at Php 23.35-Million, it is only the fourth highest contract, since the following obviously bear a larger price: (a) rolling stock maintenance at Php 131.28-Million, (b) power system maintenance at Php 43.23-Million, and (c) rail track maintenance at Php 23.9-Million.
•On the claim of irregularities in the procurement of MRT-3 contracts:
These allegations are under investigation or prosecution by various agencies of government, which are charged with the duty to fight graft and corruption and ensure transparency in government. The fact of the matter is that the DOTC has never shirked away from any of these investigations and its officials have fully cooperated with the same.
The reason for this is that DOTC’s officials are able to explain the truth that its actions are aboveboard to any institution of government and have nothing to hide. Further, the DOTC is committed to fighting corrupt practices, and is itself interested to uncover any possible irregularities which, to this day, remain allegations without proof.
With a multitude of attempts to discredit and foist lies against the MRT-3, the DOTC remains consistent in its foregoing position as to each of these issues hurled against it, as these malicious claims cannot withstand the test of truth. (PNA)