The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on Tuesday said Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) equity value buyout is still possible.
“We have to see the final form of the budget and we’ll see what our options are,” DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya told reporters.
He said the government has a Plan B but he refused to reveal what it is.
“We just couldn’t share. It’s going to be more of a legal approach to things but I’ve been briefed that there are other options,” Abaya added.
According to him, the DOTC and the Department of Finance (DOF) have to pursue the plan because President Benigno Aquino 3rd has signed an Executive Order mandating them to execute it.
“I think we still have enough time. Of course the reality is some guys obviously don’t welcome this but clearly, how could I renege on a presidential directive just because Congress decided not to give us as much fund? Mas malinaw sa akin yung utos ng Pangulo [The President’s order is much clearer to me],” Abaya said.
The DOTC earlier said the MRT 3 buyout may take place in the first week of January 2015.
The process, however, would have to be agreed upon by the Office of the Solicitor General, LandBank, Development Bank of the Philippines and the DOTC.
“For me, I think it’s clear. Even with the DOF, I spoke to Secretary (Cesar) Purisima. Itutuloy natin (We will pursue this),” Abaya said.
The government’s long-term plan for the MRT 3 is to implement the equity value buyout of the system’s private-sector owner Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) as provided for in the Build-Lease-Transfer (BLT) Concession Agreement.
Under Executive Order 167, the DOTC and DOF are designated to implement the buyout to put an end to an arbitration case in Singapore between the DOTC and MRTC.
The buyout will terminate the Concession Agreement and transfer ownership of the MRT 3 to the government, saving billions of pesos in equity rental payments paid annually to MRTC. The government will need P54 billion to gain 100 percent control of the MRT 3.
The DOTC started fast-tracking upgrades to the rail line in September, believing that modernizing and upgrading the MRT 3 would redound to the safety and convenience of passengers.
The major upgrades that are underway include the addition of 48 new train cars and the automation of the railway ticketing system.
The new train cars will increase passenger capacity by 66 percent.
“We’re not left with just one option, there are other options. We’ll see, we have to check what is there and then talk to the Department of Budget and Management and DOF,” Abaya said.