MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Monday proposed a government takeover of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 so the public can get better service from the mass transport system.
His statement came less than a week after an MRT train went out of control and slammed through a steel a barrier at the Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City. At least 36 30 people were injured in the incident.
During the weekly “Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel” press conference on Monday, Escudero explained that the government should take over the MRT 3 and then re-privatize it.
The government may opt to buy MRT Holdings Inc. – currently, the owner of the train operations under a build-lease-transfer contract – using its power to expropriate to take control of the company even without its consent.
“Actually, pwedeng kwestyunin at padaanin sa kaso sa korte ‘yun. Kabilang na ang option na exercise ng eminent domain or expropriation power ng pamahalaan para sa interest ng public na kunin ‘yan matapos tayong igisa nang pabali-baligtad sa sarili nating mantika ng MRT Holdings sa mga nakaraang taon,” Escudero explained.
Earlier reports estimated the buyout of the MRT Holdings will cost the government about P56 billion.
Although the government through Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines acquired 80 percent of the revenue rights of the MRT Holdings, Escudero noted the company is still not fully government-owned.
The MRT Holdings claimed that government merely bought security rights over the revenue and not shares of stock in the company, the senator further explained.
“Akala na nga nila (gobyerno) nabili na nila kasi ‘yung kita nabili na niya pero hindi pa pala,” he said.
The Department of Transportation and Comminications (DOTC) was under fire following the MRT train mishap in Pasay City. After that accident, at least two separate MRT incidents of stalling trains were reported.
Meanwhile, Senate finance committee chairperson noted the DOTC’s budget will be under close scrutiny because some P15 billion was used under the controversial Disbursemeny Acceleration Program (DAP) last year.
The budget deliberations will start on Tuesday, Eacudero noted.
“Dadaan sa butas ng karayon (ang DOTC). Itatanong natin kung kaya nila i-implement ang mga projects nila o papasok na namang savings ang mga ito,” the senator pointed out.
Escudero cited that the money supposedly for the repairs of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was likewise transferred as an item under DAP.
“Nakakahiya ang airport natin. Nagpapakahirap ang Department of Tourism para makahalina ng mga turista tapos ‘pag nakita nila ang airport natin, gugustihin na nilang umalis,” he added. (MNS)