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EDITORIAL - Accountability

Don’t expect a miracle, the Department of Transportation has asked the public, even as it promised “diligence” in improving the Metro Rail Transit 3 service. The DOTr made the appeal after terminating its contract with the MRT 3 maintenance provider, Busan Universal Rail Inc.

BURI officials have vowed to push for arbitration, as reportedly stipulated in their P3.8-billion contract that is supposed to run until 2019. The three-year contract was awarded without public bidding by the previous administration, which renders the deal questionable and possibly defective.

Critics of the deal say the persons behind BURI are the same ones behind PH Trams, the company put together practically overnight with miniscule capitalization, but was awarded a multimillion-dollar MRT 3 maintenance contract without public bidding by what was then the Department of Transportation and Communications under Joseph Abaya. PH Trams incorporators were linked to Liberal Party fundraisers in Pangasinan.

DOTr officials said three groups have so far expressed interest in taking over the MRT 3, including the former service provider, Japan’s giant Sumitomo, which lost the project to unknown newcomer PH Trams.

Beyond putting a new team in charge of the service, the government must make sure that there will be accountability for turning the MRT 3 into an unmitigated disaster. Not a day passes without some portion of the MRT 3 breaking down. The service lacks replacement parts, and new trains procured from China at substantial cost to taxpayers have no engines. The regular breakdowns can lead to dangerous accidents. This is public endangerment and downright criminal.

The Office of the Ombudsman has shown great reluctance in going after those reponsible for this disaster. The executive should step in and spearhead the pursuit of justice while at the same time moving to give the public an MRT 3 that runs properly.

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