MANILA, Philippines – Senators lauded Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez following his resignation over the ongoing mess surrounding the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, a party mate of Chavez in the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), described him as “dedicated.”
“Nakakalungkot. Nabawasan kami ng PDP-Laban kadre sa gobyerno na magaling, dedicated. Maaga pa lang gising na, nasa jobsite, para dedicated talaga sa kanyang trabaho,” Pimentel told reporters in an interview in Taguig City on Thursday, November 23.
(I am saddened that we have lost a PDP-Laban colleague in government, someone who is good and dedicated to his job. He’s already at his jobsite early in the morning.)
Pimentel surmised that Chavez became “disheartened” with all the issues and cases filed against him.
“I need to talk to him. Ang aking analysis, baka na-dishearten ata sa mga patong-patong na kaso na finile sa kanya, eh ginagawa niya lang trabaho niya. As if napaka-extraordinary or brilliant ng mga nagkaso sa kanya. As if napakagaling ng mga ‘yun, siya pa kinasuhan. Siguro nadismaya siya. But this is part of the hazards of government service,” Pimentel said.
(I need to talk to him. My analysis is that he might have been disheartened by the filing of cases against him when he was just doing his job. As if his accusers are extraordinary or brilliant. As if they are so good that they had to file a case against him. Maybe he got dismayed. But this is part of the hazards of government service.)
Busan Universal Rail Incorporated (BURI), the former MRT3 maintenance provider whose contract was canceled by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in early November, previously filed ethics and graft complaints against Chavez.
In a Senate hearing back in May, Chavez had said the contract with BURI should be canceled, citing the daily inconvenience experienced by passengers.
He also lamented BURI’s alleged refusal to buy spare parts, which are essential in maintaining the railway system.
Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the public services committee, said she respects Chavez’s decision. But while adding that she admires Chavez’s delicadeza, she thinks it is not the only reason for his resignation.
“I respect Usec Cesar Chavez for tendering his resignation in light of the MRT problems,” Poe said in a statement.
“[It] is time to evaluate the actions and the leadership of the DOTr as a whole in connection with how issues hounding the MRT have been addressed. These issues should be properly and expeditiously resolved despite Usec Chavez’s resignation,” she added.
Poe then called on the Duterte administration to hire a capable replacement for Chavez.
“We need to have somebody who will hit the ground running as we cannot afford a mere politically connected OJT. The interest of the public and the improvement of the country’s transportation system should be the foremost considerations in choosing a new person at the helm, rather than political accommodation or reciprocity,” she said.
Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Juan Miguel Zubiri, for their part, said Chavez is a “big loss” to the DOTr.
“The resignation of Usec Chavez is a big loss considering that he had been upfront and straightforward with the problems that surround the department. DOTr urgently needs a good communicator to explain to us, the public, about their plans and solutions to improve the traffic situation of the country,” Gatchalian said.
Zubiri said the next railway czar will have big shoes to fill.
“I’m sure the good undersecretary tried his best to solve the problems of the MRT but the problems seem far greater than one man alone could carry. He believes that maybe someone else may help solve these problems hounding our mass transport system. I respect his decision and I salute him,” Zubiri said.
“The new rail czar will have his hands full aside from having to fill the big shoes of Cesar,” he added.
Prior to Chavez’s resignation, the DOTr had filed plunder complaints against several former members of the Aquino Cabinet for the MRT3 mess. – Rappler.com
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