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PNoy should reform PH’s mass transport system in his last year

Photo by Rappler

Nationalist People’s Coalition Congressman Win Gatchalian has urged President Aquino to focus on improving the long-delayed development of the country’s train systems on his last year as chief executive.
He emphasized that even after five years the public is still waiting for genuine reforms to be implemented in the mass transport sector.

“Five years into the president’s promise of ‘tuwid na daan’ and inclusive growth, the people are still waiting for improvements as they put one foot in the grave riding the worn-out trains,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
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“In his last year in the presidency, Mr. Aquino should focus on rehabilitating our dilapidated train systems, lest he wants the public to remember the neglected trains as part of his legacy,” Gatchalian added.

The Valenzuela City congressman also questioned the failure of concerned government agencies to improve our train systems while correctly following government procedures, despite the availability of funds collected from taxpayers.

“There are funds to improve mass transport systems but they have been purposely kept out from where they were allocated. If there were clogs in the system of bidding, procurement, and implementation, was five years not enough to address them while still maintaining transparency and respect for the law?,” Gatchalian explained.

The solon was referring to the Commission on Audit (COA) report released last week wherein the COA expressed disappointment over the inability of the Light Rail Transit Authority to improve its services despite the full release of a stimulus fund of P1.314 billion in January last year.

“After more than a year since the fund was released, there was not a single significant accomplishment involving rehabilitation of System Lines 1 and 2,” said the COA. “With the fund already made available for more than a year, we found no more significant reasons to further hinder the implementation of the projects.”
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The delays were said to have been caused by some revisions in the type of projects that should have been implemented. The Project Status Report as of March 31 this year showed that most of LRTA’s projects were still in the phase of preparation of the Terms of Reference (TOR).

Meanwhile, the COA also questioned in a recent report the Philippine National Railways (PNR)’s negotiated procurement and awarding of a P150-million contract for the general overhaul and upgrading of diesel engine locomotives to Miescorrail, Inc. and Desco, Inc. Joint Venture, despite the failure of one of the partners to submit the required information on completion of a similar project.

The COA also found that PNR General Manager Joseph Allan Dilay is one of the incorporators and directors of Miescorrail, Inc. based on the company’s Amended Articles of Incorporation.

Last month, it was reported that the delivery of the 48 new trains of the battered Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) has been delayed anew to January 2016 instead of this year’s last quarter, following the delay in the issuance of the notice to proceed because of a court battle between the government and MRT Holdings Inc.

At least 38 passengers of the MRT-3 have been injured after a wayward train overshot the tracks and rammed a barrier at the Taft Avenue station in August last year.

Gatchalian said that even though the dire situation of commuters frequently make it to news headlines, there was neither urgency on the part of the government to reverse the circumstances for the better nor sincere apology to the long suffering public.

“While no top government official concerned with the management of our country’s mass transport systems had been administratively or criminally charged, there was no “sorry” expressed by authorities for the sorry state of our trains and for the sorry situation of the commuters,” said Gatchalian.

The Valenzuela City lawmaker added: “The appalling situation of our train systems show how top government officials concerned with transportation actually treat what the President claimed is his ‘bosses’; while they get chauffeured to and from their offices, the suffering public continue enduring commuting in old, broken-down trains amid pledges of change.” (Monica Cantilero)