MRT-3 maintenance provider denies shortchanging the gov't

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 26) — The maintenance provider of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) refuted claims of short-changing the government, as pointed out by Transportation Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez.

Busan Universal Rail Incorporated spokesperson Charles Mercado said they did not bill the government for the Vehicle Logic Units or VLUs that lack proper documents. VLUs serve as the train's auto-protection system.

Mercado said they have not even purchased the VLUs ordered in October 2016, after the transaction was cancelled when the supplier failed to present the Certificate of Origin and the Factory Inspection Report, which were required by transport officials.

Mercado also denied allegations Busan Universal obtained spare parts from a second-hand store.

"Our billings for the maintenance component of our contract are always for services rendered and we never bill on the basis of spare parts. So it is completely false for Usec. Chavez (to say) that we bill the (Department of Transportation) for P4 million worth of VLUs," Mercado said.

READ: MRT maintenance provider decries blame for glitches

Mercado filed a graft case against Chavez before the Ombudsman last week, saying the Transportation department withheld payments worth around P176 million.

"He unlawfully injured the company because of withholding payment that have no basis under the contract," Mercado said.

In a statement, Chavez said he only wanted to protect public funds, as the government is strict on billings to guarantee the quality of spare parts and make sure the commuters are safe.

Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Art Tugade said he supports Chavez, saying the transportation undersecretary consulted him on withholding payment,

Tugade said Busan Universal should have sued him as well.

Busan Universal wrote a letter to Tugade, explaining what happened with the auto-protection system.

The MRT-3 maintenance provider also appealed to the transportation secretary to stop Chavez from "further spreading false information" against the company.

READ: MRT mulls over terminating contract with maintenance provider

CNN Philippines tried to get Chavez  to comment, but he said he is on leave and would defer issuing a statement.