Poe to Aquino: Fire transport chief Abaya now

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential aspirant Grace Poe on Wednesday, January 6, called on President Benigno Aquino III to immediately replace Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, citing his “incompetence and shortsightedness.”

In a statement released to media, Poe said this was because “the [transport] situation is critical and the safety of the riding public is in peril.”

“With the seemingly nonchalant stance of the DOTC and MRT Management in not being upfront about this circumstance, I urge the good President not to wait for Abaya to resign but to replace him immediately,” she said. 

Poe, who chairs the Senate sub-committee on transport, added: “Five months left is an eternity to our riding public. We have endured more than 3 years of Abaya's incompetence and shortsightedness.” 

Prior to announcing her decision to run for president, Poe had been heading the probe into the sorry state of Metro Manila’s transportation woes, particularly the state of the Metro Rail Transit 3. (READ: Grace Poe rides MRT3, says it's 'not a hopeless situation')

The senator said, “The President can step in, take control of the DOTC, and pull together all the needed government resources at its disposal to address the situation.”

“Potential major problems are waiting to happen with MRT3. This is likely as there is no more daily maintenance of train brakes and bogey wheels, daily inspection of tracks for cracks, daily testing of signaling as per SOP in any metro system. The situation is critical,” said the senator.

The Senate sub-committee's probe into the MRT3 began after one of the train's carriages crashed into the barriers of its terminal station in Pasay City in August 2014, injuring passengers. The MRT3 has been in a sorry state through the years, with many facilities in stations non-existent and its operations hitting beyond designed capacity.

Improving transportation in the Philippines’ main mega city is among Poe’s promises in her presidential run.

Abaya is also acting president of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), which Aquino chairs. The LP is fielding former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II as its standard-bearer in the 2016 national elections. (READ: Should Jun Abaya choose between DOTC and LP?)

The DOTC chief has long said that he's willing to step down, should the President tell him so. – Rappler.com