MRT3 operations director accuses GM Garcia of assaulting him

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) Director for Operations Mike Capati accused his direct superior, MRT3 General Manager Rodolfo Garcia, of assaulting him on Friday, April 6.

Capati said in a text message he supposedly sent to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade that he was assaulted by Garcia on Friday in front of DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan and representatives from Australia  Agency for International Development (AusAid) and Asia Development Bank (ADB).

"[Secretary] Tugade, GM Garcia just physically assaulted me in front of AUS (AusAid), ADB, and Usec TJ meeting. Fyi (For your information)," Capati said in a text message. A copy of the text message was forwarded to the media by resigned DOTr Undersecretary Cesar Chavez.

DOTr media relations officer Aly Narvaez said the incident happened during a joint advisory panel meeting with AusAid and ADB while strategies were being considered to improve MRT3 services.

In a statement, the DOTr downplayed the altercation and said it was a result of a "heated management situation."

"We wish to note that it is normal in any organization for there to be, at times, heated management situations, especially with individuals who are passionate about delivering on that organization’s mandate," the statement said.

Asked what type of assault happened between the two MRT3 officials, the DOTr said it is "not an overly extraordinary organizational matter."

"[T]his is not an overly extraordinary organizational matter and that the DOTr and MRT3 will handle this in a professional manner," they said.

Tugade dispatched lawyer Artemio Tuazon, his Chief of Staff, to the MRT3 depot to personally check the situation, DOTr Director for Communications Goddes Libiran told reporters.

"Atty Tuazon is already making a report, and he will send it to the secretary once completed. Again, we assure you that we will manage this in a highly-professional manner, but internally," Libiran said.

Earlier this January, Garcia was involved in a heated discussion with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez during a hearing on the MRT3 problem.

When asked about his competency to manage the MRT3, Garcia shouted at Alvarez and threatened to resign. He later took it back and apologized to the lawmakers.

Garcia is a retired police general appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to take over the MRT3 in March 2017. He served as the former MRT3 Director for Operations when Reynaldo Berroya was then the MRT3's general manager.–

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.