MRT’s Vitangcol focused on corruption, not job – commuters group

Bea Cupin

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MRT’s Vitangcol focused on corruption, not job – commuters group
'We don't know if he functions as a general manager or he's there to raise funds for the Liberal Party,' says a commuters group that wants Vitangcol to resign for inefficiency

MANILA, Philippines – For a group of commuters, the general manager of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3), Al Vitangcol III should resign because he is doing anything but manage the rail line properly while at the same time being dragged into an extortion attempt.

Holding a rally at the MRT depot in Quezon City on Thursday, April 10, the group Riles Network said the least Vitangcol could do is resign voluntarily. 

“Kung hindi man lang siya puwedeng hilingin na mag-resign, dapat matuto siyang mahiya dahil public servant siya,” said Riles convenor Sammy Manules. “Hindi siya focused sa kanyang tungkulin, mas focused siya sa corruption.

(If we can’t ask him to resign, he should at least have some shame because he’s a public servant…. He’s not focused on his job, he’s focused on corruption.)

Vitangcol and officials from the Department of Transportation and Communications earlier admitted at a Senate hearing that the agency had no short-term solutions for the MRT 3’s problems. (READ: Delivery of new MRT trains to ease congestion set for Feb 2015)

New trains are set to be delivered beginning February 2015, afterwhich 3 carriages will be delivered as part of a 48-carriage expansion plan.

Vitangcol is also accused of attempting to extort $30 million from Czech firm Inekon in exchange for ensuring it would get a contarct to supply additional cars for the MRT. During the Senate hearing, Vitangcol denied the allegations and explained the company wanted to claim intellectual property rights to the designs of MRT 3 trains, something the DOTC objected to.

The National Bureau of Investigation is still probing the case.

Inefficient, mismanaged

Calls for Vitangcol to resign aren’t new. Aside from the long lines, the MRT 3 recently experienced a bog down due to a communication glitch and an accident due to driver lapse.

Inefficient and mismanaged ang MRT. As a general manager, hindi niya nagagawa ang kanyang tungkulin,” said Manules in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel. (The MRT is inefficient and mismanaged. As general manager, he’s not doing his job.)

Yet Vitangcol remains in his post, said Manules. “Politically appointed siya ng Palasyo kaya ewan ko kung kanyang function as general manager ay…para kumuha ng malaking pondo sa Partido Liberal,” he said. (Vitangcol is a political appointee so I don’t know if he functions as a general manager or [he’s there] to raise funds for the Liberal Party.)

Supply problem

The Palace, however, came to Vitangcol’s defense. “Ano naman ang mangyayari sa ating bansa kung kailangan lang mag-organize ng isang mass action at hingin ang ulo at ibibigay ang ulo? Hindi naman yata ‘yan marka ng isang sibilisadong lipunan at ng isang maayos na demokrasya,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a press briefing also on Thursday.

(What will happen to our country if we give in to every mass action, that when they ask for somebody’s head, we let the head roll? I don’t think that’s a mark of a civilized society and a functioning democracy.)

Sa aking palagay, kinakailangang bigyan ng kagyat na solusyon ‘yung marami sa ating mga mamamayan ang pumipila ng matagal doon sa mga MRT stations. Kaya malinaw na ito ay isang transportation supply problem,” the President’s spokesman said. (What we need to solve is the long lines, the time spent by commuters waiting in line. It’s clear that this is a supply problem.)

Manules questioned why the supply problem took so long to solve. “Alam nila na tumataas yearly or quarterly ang [bilang ng] riding public, pero wala silang ginagawa kung paano i-aaccomodate ito,” he said. (They know the volume of the riding public increases yearly, even quarterly, but they didn’t do anything to accommodate this.) –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.