Transportation Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez tendered his irrevocable resignation on Thursday over the Metro Rail Transit-3 mess.
“I hope the President understands that in the light of recent events involving the MRT-3 System, simple sense of delicadeza which I have adhered to throughout my professional life gives me no choice but to resign from my said position,” Chavez said in his resignation letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It is also my intent and hope that my resignation provides opportunity for the appointment of a person better qualified to perform the duties and responsibilities of the subject office,” he added.
He admitted that he may no be able to deliver what is required to end the rail problems “as soon as possible.”
“Baka importante magkaroon ng bagong team (It is important to have a new team),” Chavez said. “Ang tao naghihintay ng mas mabilis na resulta (The people are waiting for quick results).”
“Spare parts and management are replaceable. Kung hindi nakakabili ng spare parts, nagkaka-aberya. Kung kulang performance ng management, nagkaka-problema (If we are unable to purchase spare parts, there are glitches. If our performance is lacking, there will be problems,” he added.
Chavez earlier recommended the termination of the contract of MRT-3 with maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc.
Some lawmakers warned that with Chavez’s exit, the MRT situation will worsen.
Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said Chavez’s resignation was not surprising with the powerful economic and “political” interests he stepped on while addressing the MRT rail system.
“Usec Chavez is one of the more open public officials under the DOTr and often invites groups and people’s organizations to check or consult on how to deal with the rail problems in the country. His irrevocable resignation shows that the commuting public will expect, not an improvement, but an even worse MRT service,” Zarate said.
“The MRT/LRT problem is now emblematic of the grave and utter failure of the government’s onerous privatization program and abandonment of its primary role and control of our public mass transportation system,” he added.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice echoed the statement, saying “the worst is yet to come.”
“I can feel for Usec Chavez or anybody who would take his place [because] he is doomed to fail. It’s high time that [the government] acquires the ownership of the MRT facility and then bid it out to private sector operations. This is the only solution,” Erice said.
Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin, however, said Chavez had to be sacrificed by the Duterte administration that has played the “blame game” over issues of efficiency in governance.
“The MRT-3 mess is a collective problem that goes all the way up to Malacañang. It was a campaign promise to be solved in the short run just like the campaign against illegal drugs. To appease the public, someone’s head had to be in the chopping block. Usec Chavez’s good intentions can’t hide a government that is leading us to nowhere,” Villarin said.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat lauded Chavez.
“[His resignation] sends a message of personal accountability for one’s actions and for that I praise him. Usec Chavez felt that they have tailed to live up to this administration’s promises of immediately improving the MRT so he resigned,” Baguilat said. “This is in stark contrast to his other colleagues’ penchant of continuing to blame the officials of the previous administration for the MRT woes. Filing inappropriate plunder cases does not make the trains run better. Better management and purchase of newer ones do.”
Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano agreed with Baguilat but he pointed out that Chavez’s resignation does not end the problems plaguing the railway system.
with Ralph Edwin U. Villanueva