DOTC faces probe over delayed projects

MANILA, Philippines – As if the impending “carmageddon” is not enough, delayed train and other mass transportation projects are also adding to the burden of the commuting public.

Senate finance committee chairman Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said this as he announced Saturday, February 22, a probe into these delays by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

“The delays are incurred in the implementation of three railway projects, IT projects, the release of license plates for motor vehicles, and the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) expansion and MRT acquisition. Each day these projects are delayed only adds to the burden of the riding public who relies solely on mass transportation,” he said.

Under Senate Resolution No. 494 (PSR 494) filed by Escudero, he urged the government to take over the operational control and ownership of the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC).

He also asked DOTC to strictly implement Executive Order 126 which authorizes the department, as well as the Department of Finance, to acquire the MRTC for P56 billion. (READ: P56-B budget for MRT buyout ready)

Just recently, the Makati City regional trial court stopped the department from buying 48 train cars for the MRT 3. (READ: Court stops DOTC's purchase of MRT trains)

MRTC, which signed a build-lease-transfer agreement with DOTC for MRT 3 in 1999, wants to stop the acquisition, saying it violates the agreement.

MRT 3 is one of the many projects under the government's Public-Private Partnership program, where DOTC is the biggest implementing agency. 

Escudero, in the resolution, said all government agencies should meet the requirements of procurement planning and linking this with the availability of funds.

“But the DOTC has been delayed in its projects. Instead, projects are subjected to litigations and sometimes prohibitory judicial orders and questionable bidding procedures and project awards.”

Instead of inching closer to improving the country's mass transport system, the delays “prolong the agony of Filipinos” that DOTC “are supposed to serve as the lead agency for transport and communication.” (READ: Traffic solution: Longer operating hours for MRT-3)

Escudero said the department should maximize the use of financial resources for its projects, especially railways and mass transportation systems, if the country wants to become a viable investment destination in the region.

The finance committee will also look into the department's absorptive capacity for projects funded by the General Appropriations Act. – Jee Geronimo/Rappler.com