Grace Poe calls for probe on MRT

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Highlights

  • Poe says she will issue subpoena if Abaya, others are a no-show
  • Poe says MRT parts are incompatible
  • Poe calls for a separate investigative body for transportation problems
  • Poe supports emergency powers for President Duterte

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 3) — A Senate resolution has been filed on Wednesday to investigate the inefficient management and maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3, which has resulted in increasing train malfunctions.

"Ang gobyerno ultimately is responsible for this, kasi sabihin na natin, pinuno ng nakaraang administrasyon ng abugado at hindi engineer ang DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) so puro sila wala namang alam sa technical," Sen. Grace Poe told CNN Philippines' The Source.

[Translation: The government is ultimately responsible for this, because, let's face it, the previous administration filled the DOTC with lawyers, not engineers, so they had no knowledge in the technical aspects.]

Maintenance provider: Old trains cause of MRT problems

Senate Resolution 355 will also look into the newly-acquired Dalian trains, which Poe said did not undergo the necessary tests before being delivered.

The Senator added the new trains have incompatible parts, with the Dalian coaches acquired from China, the signaling system from South Korea, and the engines coming from Germany. The 48 new train coaches cost 3.8 billion pesos.

48 new MRT-3 coaches cannot be used until next year - DOTr exec  

Saying that transport officials from the previous administration should be held liable, Poe said she would invite Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade, Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez, former DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya, former MRT general managers Al Vitangcol and Roman Buenafe, and incorporator of MRT maintenance Marlo Dela Cruz to the hearing.

"If they don't show up with no good reason, I will have them subpoenaed because I think the people deserve to know what's going on," Poe said, "We need to hear this as soon as possible because we only have about a month."

 

National Safety Transportation Board

In light of the recent road accidents primarily caused by vehicular malfunctions, Poe is also pushing for the establishment of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), solely dedicated to ensuring passenger welfare.

Poe said the NTSB would be responsible for investigating "air, land, and sea tragedies."

"You have the LTO (Land Transportation Office) and the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) being the ones investigating when they themselves are the ones that issued the permits for them to operate. Naturally they would be biased because they might step on people's toes within their department," Poe said.

LTFRB to intensify drive against older buses  

"Ang nangyayari (What happens is), they are already spread thin doing their other functions, they can't be the investigating body," she added.

With traffic congestion being an increasing concern in major roads, Poe said she lobbied in the Senate for the emergency powers be fully granted to President Rodrigo Duterte to help alleviate the problem.

"You know what, a lot of the delays are basic things like right of way, even if you have imminent domain, sometimes you need government muscle to get the courts sometimes out of the way, so that there won't be any TROs (Temporary Restraining Orders)," Poe said.

However, she is pessimistic that their counterparts in the House of Representatives would approve the measure.

"You know what, even if we pass it in the Senate, congress doesn't want to pass it....with barely a month left, I doubt. And then, with Congress not even, I think, in the period of interpellation," she said.

CNN Philippines' Regine Cabato contributed to this report.