TALK CHEAPER THAN P54-B
TO SOLVE MRT-3 WOES
According to Sen. Chiz Escudero, to solve the problems surrounding the ownership and control of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) Project, P54 billion is not needed to buy out Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) and take over its operations.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate Finance panel commented at the hearing of the Committee on Public Services that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the MRTC, led by the Sobrepeňa group made no attempt to sit down and discuss a string of operational and maintenance issues affecting the service of MRT 3.
The DOTC plans to buy out the MRTC from operating MRT 3 for P53.9 billion in a bid to improve its services to the riding public.
However, Roberto Sobrepeňa, chairman of the Fil-Estate, the major equity holder in the MRTC, said the DOTC had not made a formal offer to buy them out. The P54 billion is just an approximation and is not even enough to buy MRTC shares.
“Are you even talking?” Escudero asked the DOTC and the MRTC, to which Sobrepeňa answered, “No, your honor. They have not talked to us. We have not talked to them.”
At the hearing, Escudero made a manifestation to the committee to have the DOTC and the MRTC sit down together to thresh out the issues surrounding the poor operations and maintenance of MRT 3. They can’t get their acts together. Each has their own responsibilities.”
He offered to conduct Senate hearings every week if that would bring the two parties together to get to the bottom of the MRT 3 problems and bring about better public transport service.
Escudero said the proposed allocation for MRT 3 buyout under the 2015 budget may not see the light of the day. “I am not convinced that we need to shell out almost P54 billion of public funds just to take over MRT 3. DOTC and MRTC can talk seriously, analyze and agree on terms and conditions to improve the state of affairs of our mass transport system.”
Escudero has been calling for the final resolution of the MRT 3 ownership since 2010 in order to determine the status of its operational control and allow development plans to move forward.
“We don’t need to bleed out this much money; we could very well use this amount for other programs that need immediate and much needed allocations. In fact, the DOTC admitted during their budget hearing that they can very well bid the operation and maintenance of MRT 3 now without a takeover worth billions of pesos,” Escudero said. /MP