Noy: Abaya co-terminus with me

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 8, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Embattled Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya will keep his job until the day his friend President Aquino steps down at the end of his six-year term.

The President made this clear yesterday as he reaffirmed his trust and confidence in Abaya, who is drawing flak for Metro Manila’s troubled mass transport service, particularly the Metro Rail Transit  (MRT)’s erratic operations.

“Yes” was the Chief Executive’s quick reply when asked in Davao City whether he intended to keep the former Cavite congressman in his Cabinet despite mounting calls for his dismissal.

Abaya is also the ruling Liberal Party’s secretary general. He had served as aide-de-camp of Aquino’s late mother Corazon in the late 1980s.

Aquino defended Abaya’s continued stay at the helm of the Department of Transportation and Communications, noting that contrary to speculations, the MRT 3 has a “maintenance provider who accepted a one-month extension.”

“After the one-month extension, Busan will take over the maintenance aspect completely. So it’s not right to say that maintenance has ceased. Secretary Abaya insists there was never a moment that MRT 3 did not have a maintenance provider,” he explained, referring to the consortium of Busan Transportation Corp., Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile Inc., TMICorp Inc. and Castan Corp.

Sen. Grace Poe, an independent presidential candidate, has been calling on the President to dismiss Abaya, saying the country does not deserve a DOTC chief like him.

Aquino said the call for Abaya’s resignation was apparently in reaction to reports that Busan had walked out of its contract with the government.

He said developments were apparently wrongly reported.

“It’s not walking away, it’s ‘walking to’ that should have been indicated on the headlines,” he said.

 “They (Busan and joint venture partners) will maintain the MRT 3 for three years and rehabilitate, overhaul 43 of the LRVs; will install a completely new signaling system, replace the obsolete one. They are already taking over the signaling today (yesterday),” he added.


Poe said President Aquino’s decision to keep Abaya was “lamentable.”

She said “equally unfortunate is the secretary’s refusal to budge from his post amid the MRT mess.”

Poe also slammed statements from pro-administration allies who blamed the MRT mess on the “original sin” of the previous Arroyo administration.

“Let us stop invoking the original sin through the disadvantageous contract entered into by the past administrations on the MRT 3. Let us get along with this deal and gather our resources to fix whatever we can. The administration has all the resources at its disposal to do this since Day One,” she said.

She did not name names but Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, who was a DOTC secretary, has been blaming the Arroyo administration for the maintenance deal foul-up.

Poe maintained there is a need for authorities to closely assess the safety of the MRT system. – Christina Mendez, Robertzon Ramirez


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