Sue MRT owner now, DOTC urged
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - September 18, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) was urged yesterday to sue Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC), owner of the MRT line, to force it to comply with its obligations in improving and maintaining the facility.

In making the appeal, Rep. Antonio Bravo of Cooperatives National Network Party said DOTC officials promised two weeks ago in a Senate hearing that they would initiate legal action against MRTC, but that they have not done so.

“Two weeks have passed since the Senate conducted its eye-opening hearing on the MRT, and we have yet to get updates on the DOTC’s plans to sue MRTC for breach of contract,” he said.

He said during the Sept. 1 Senate hearing, Sen. Francis Escudero accused MRTC of violating its contractual obligations for the past 11 years with its failure to procure additional train coaches.

“How much longer do we need to study this before we actually file a case against them? Do you plan to sue MRTC? Why do you allow them to barrage the government with litigation left and right by way of TROs when, clearly, they did not deliver on their contract?” Escudero said.

Bravo recalled that in response, DOTC Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla said the option to sue MRTC was under study and that the DOTC hoped “to go in that direction.”

He said Lotilla later told reporters that the MRTC had failed to maintain the system in a clear “breach of obligation” under its contract with the government.

He further quoted the DOTC official as saying: “For 25 years, the government would pay equity rental at 15 percent interest per annum and guarantee the loans of MRTC. And for what? For a system that today is breaking down and for a system that lacks upgrade.”

Bravo said DOTC “should prioritize the resolution of these legal issues rather than come up with non-responsive solutions to the MRT woes.”

“The DOTC already knows that a complete rehab of the system is needed, and that maintenance of the trains is not the issue. Given this, it should focus on doing what must be done to secure more wagons,” he said.

“We have been led to believe that it’s the fault of maintenance, but a study of the data reveals that these problems affecting MRT operations can actually be traced to the contractual negligence of MRTC.

“Think about it: MRTC at one point even tried to block the government’s acquisition of additional train cars even though they knew that these could address many of the line’s problems. If they are the ones in the way of the government’s efforts to improve MRT services, then the DOTC should focus on legally taking them out of the picture,” he stressed.

ANTONIO BRAVO OF COOPERATIVES NATIONAL NETWORK PARTY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS DOTC FRANCIS ESCUDERO GOVERNMENT LOTILLA METRO RAIL TRANSIT CORP MRT MRTC UNDERSECRETARY JOSE PERPETUO LOTILLA
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