Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao slammed the Duterte administration anew on the latest breakdown of the MRT system that resulted to the off-loading of passengers before reaching the GMA-Kamuning Station in Quezon City after smoke was emitted from one of the train coaches. The lawmaker is hollering “nasaan ang pangulo” (where is the president?), particularly on the notice of termination of maintenance contract of Busan Universal Rail Inc. (Buri) sent by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) last October 17.
“The notice issued by the DOTr only gave Buri a 7-day deadline to explain on why their contract should not be terminated, but their reply is obviously the almost daily breakdown of the MRT system, so we are asking the president, why the delay of the termination?” Casilao said in a statement.
It was the 15th glitch of the transport system since the last week of October, based from media reports. Also, a 55-year old passenger was hurt, wounding her leg while getting off the train coach. The lawmaker warned the government against its vacillation to terminate the maintenance contract with Buri and not to wait for a serious accident to happen on the commuters.
“The indecisiveness of the Duterte administration on the MRT issue is incensing as the moral and factual grounds for terminating the contract with Buri are already overwhelming, but on the issue of phasing out of jeepney, they act as if they are undisputable on their planned modernization of the PUV,” Casilao said.
Casilao hinted that the government’s procrastination is dictated by its adherence to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) framework that fundamentally hounded the MRT system. The PPP model gave more rights to the private sectors, thus, putting public interest to a disadvantage. The lawmaker is mulling to file a resolution on how much profit private investors raked up from the MRT system that led to its sacrificing the funding for maintenance resulting its deteriorating state.
“We have been demanding ever-since for a government take-over of the MRT system, as obviously private sector players have been sucking up the funds dry and securing their profits to the point of putting hundreds of thousands of commuters at risk,” Casilao said.
He also warned against the possibility of the DOTr already finding a new private contractor for its maintenance, and the privatization of the government stake on the transport system. The Metro Pacific – Ayala syndication has already announced its plan to buy out majority stake and take-over of the MRT system.
“If President Duterte acted pathetic and allowed this private take-over of MRT, it is tantamount to eating his own words of working against the big oligarchs, and in reality, protecting them over the public interest,” Casilao ended.