Officials of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) on Friday belied reports they had an extravagant party to mark the agency’s 35th anniversary in a hotel in Manila recently.
LRTA spokesman Hernando Cabrera told The Manila Times that the amount spent during the event was within the allowed spending per employee based on guidelines set by the Commission on Audit (COA).
“In the COA guidelines, there is a specific amount you can spend for every employee so what they will do is to compute the fund spent then divide it by the number of employees,” Cabrera said in Filipino.
“The amount allotted was used for the food, venue, prizes and others, it covered all the needs for the event” he added.
Cabrera explained that the memorandum from LRTA administrator Honorito Chaneco requiring the employees to don a 1920s-inspired attire, in keeping with the agency’s anniversary theme, was just to make sure that majority of them would follow.
He said the employees need not spend much but would just depend on how they will be creative with their old clothes and come up with the best costume.
“The costume is voluntary… they could attend the event without any costume, actually during this affair I saw some of our employees not in costume. Others only had a hat or a scarf and it is enough,” Cabrera noted.
The LRTA spokesman said their operation was not affected by the event, adding that repairs are still ongoing especially on the first generation trains that were shown with leaking roofs in social media recently.
“From July 7 onward we are continuously working on our trains. I am referring to the short-term measures for our 35-year old first generation trains. We do two things, the short-term solution, which we do every year, and the long term,” according to Cabrera.
“For the long-term, we have been doing this since 2012 where we implement a total overhaul for the cars of our trains,” he said.
Recently, a militant group bashed LRTA officials for holding an allegedly lavish party for their anniversary while commuters are faced with leaking roofs and queues at train stations.
The group claimed that the country’s train system “continues to suffer serious maintenance and operations issues” apparently without its administrators giving the highest priority to running the system well and looking after the welfare of train riders.