SENATOR Grace Poe wants all government officials behind the signing of the P3.8-billion contract to procure train coaches for the Metro Rail Transit line 3 held accountable.
Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, said that the issue on the MRT3 will be given priority during the last five weeks of the first regular session of the 17th Congress.
The senator maintained that those responsible to the procurement of new trains should be made to answer because it is the people’s money that will be used to pay for the coaches that have yet to be put into use.
All 48 new coaches have been delivered by Dalian Locomotive Corp. and Rolling Stock Co. the Chinese company that won the contract in 2014.
But Transportation Undersecretary Cesar Chavez admitted that the coaches cannot be used for at least a year because these are not equipped with on-board signaling system, a vital equipment that enables the train operators to communicate with the MRT control center.
The MRT also needs to upgrade its power supply to allow them to increase the number of trains operating at 2.5 minutes intervals. Power generators can only run 24 three-coach trains or a total of 72 coaches at a time.
“While I agree that we need to move forward, how can we move if our trains are not running?” Poe told reporters in an interview.
The senator said the contract was flawed and should be reviewed.
“For the DOTr, they should gather evidence and file cases against those responsible for the mess,” she added.
Poe urged the government to go after Transport officials responsible for the contract.
“They are all lawyers there, but all of the deals they entered into were failures,” Poe said without naming names.
The contract for the procurement of 48 train coaches was signed during the time of Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
Graft charges have been filed against Abaya and other former officials by former MRT-3 General Manager Al Vitangcol.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said his agency had started its own investigation and will file charges against former officials once proof of wrongdoing is established.
“I assure you, once there are substantive proof that can justify a case then we will do it. All this hanky-panky and foolishness once established will not go unpunished,” Tugade told reporters.
He said that he ordered Chavez to get a certification from a third party showing that the trains are safe.
“I would like a certification that these Dalian trains are safe for the riding public,” he added.
He said that he will hold the payment for the trains if these were found to be unsafe.