Government to sue people behind frequent MRT glitches

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — The government will file criminal charges against those responsible for the Metro Rail Transit's (MRT) frequent mishaps and glitches, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday.

"Hindi lang po kinansela ang kontrata, pero ang naintindihan ko po ang DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) ay magsasampa rin ng kaso laban doon sa mga tao na naging dahilan kung bakit nagkaroon ng perwisyo ang ating mga mamamayan," he said at a press briefing.

[Translation: We did not just cancel the contract, from what I understood, the DOTC will file cases against the people who've inconvenienced the public.]

The government took over the maintenance of the MRT Line 3 on Monday after it terminated the contract of Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI). This, following the frequent breakdowns that have plagued the MRT.

Roque said the government's rescindment of its contract with BURI proves it is not numb to the needs of the public.

"Patunay po 'yan na hindi na papayag ang Presidente na patuloy ang palpak na serbisyo na binibigay ng mga kontratista ng ating MRT at LRT," he said.

[Translation: This is proof the President will not allow the continuous incompetent services the LRT and MRT service providers give.]

Earlier, a complaint was filed at the Ombudsman against former officials of the DOTC.

Transportation Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Rainier Yebra filed on October 23 a graft complaint against former DOTC officials, including ex-Secretary Jun Abaya, as well as BURI officials.

Yebra said this was for the "current degradation, the poor service, [and] the unreliable trains" the public encounters at the MRT-3. He added, the government suffered "undue injury" as it gave over ?921 million to BURI as "payment of dismal services."

In response, Abaya, who at the time had not read the complaint, said their decisions had "always been guided by our conscience and our compliance with procurement laws and laws with regard  to the procurement of the maintenance provider."

Meanwhile, BURI said it was confident it would be able to "answer and negate" charges against the company and its officials.

READ: Abaya, ex-DOTC officials face graft rap over MRT-3 maintenance contract

Following the termination of its contract on Monday, BURI also said the government had no one else to blame but itself.

It added, the MRT's glitches were caused by the train's old rails, which were the responsibility of the Transport Department.

READ: DOTr: Gov't to take over MRT maintenance

The government started its three-year contract with BURI during former DOTC Sec. Jun Abaya's term. Before it was rescinded, it was set to expire in January 2019