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MANILA, Philippines – The country’s transportation department is demanding the Robert John Sobrepeña-controlled MRT Holdings, Incorporated II (MRTH II) to drop its bid to stop the addition of 48 new train cars to the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) system.
Sobrepeña sits as chair of Metro Global Holdings Corporation (MGHC), one of the shareholders of MRTH II, the parent company of MRT3 concessionaire Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC). (READ: DOTC doubts Sobrepeña’s cheaper MRT3 offer)
MRTH II used to manage the affairs of MRT3’s contractual owner MRTC and is now its controlling shareholder.
In February 2014, MRTH II filed a case for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against the DOTC to stop the agency from adding new trains to the system.
The Philippine government gave China-based Dalian Locomotive the go-signal to ship the new Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) prototype train car to Manila on July 29. The prototype train car for MRT3 is expected to arrive at the Port of Manila between August 10 to August 14.
In his last State of the Nation Address Monday, July 27, President Benigno Aquino III took note of MRTH’s failure to add trains despite its contractual obligation.
“This partner of ours is supposed to be in charge of maintenance. In 2008, there should have been a general overhaul of the MRT, but upon DOTC’s (Department of Transportation and Communications) inspection, only token cosmetic changes were undertaken,” Aquino noted.
“This lack of care practically guaranteed the breakdown of our trains. Is it not in the interest of all companies to make sure that they get their money’s worth from their investment? Yet, they allowed the situation to deteriorate, to the point where, at very short notice, they just passed the job of improving the MRT onto us,” Aquino said. (READ: SONA 2015: Aquino blames private firm for MRT3 woes)
‘Riding public deserves much better’
In a statement released Tuesday, July 28, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the riding public deserves a much better MRT3 than what the private owner is providing.
“That is why we exercised political will to add new train cars ourselves. Not only did MRTH II fail to add them, they even filed a case to stop us when we did,” he said.
“MRTH II’s case against DOTC is a case against new trains. It is a case against the public. So we’re fighting this case for the public interest,” Abaya added.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati initially issued a TRO, but eventually sided with the DOTC and ruled against MRTH II. According to the court, apart from the fact that only the Supreme Court may enjoin such a project, public interest must prevail in this case, DOTC cited.
MRTH II, however, appealed its case before the Court of Appeals (CA), which also sided with the DOTC. The case is still pending with the CA as MRTH II has sought reconsideration of the appellate court’s decision.
In his final SONA, Aquino did not call out Abaya over the MRT’s problems, and instead urged him to remain steadfast in his “resolve” as DOTC chief. Aquino said Abaya’s achievements had been overshadowed by the “complicated” challenges in his sector, such as the MRT.
In his final SONA, Aquino said the lack of upgrades for the MRT3 is due to the contract between the government and the MRTC, along with the series of temporary restraining orders and arbitration. Aquino issued Executive Order 126 on February 28, 2013, authorizing the implementation of the MRT3 buyout.
The President had also said that Aquino added that his administration only inherited the problems of the MRT. blaming again his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, for failing to act on the problems of the mass railway transit line. (READ: Aquino on MRT mess: ‘Bad politics’ to blame) – Rappler.com