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Chiz blames chaotic MRT corporate structure for project delays

Posted On 2014 Apr 08
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Senator Chiz Escudero, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, delivers a privilege speech on the 2014 General Appropriations Bill, Tuesday morning. According to Escudero, the 2014 budget proposal, which includes funds for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction programs and projects in the amount of P70 billion, will also include specific funding for the rehabilitation of the Visayas on top of the existing calamity fund to be sourced from items which can be postponed in the 2014 national budget. (MNS photo)

Senator Chiz Escudero, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, delivers a privilege speech on the 2014 General Appropriations Bill, Tuesday morning. According to Escudero, the 2014 budget proposal, which includes funds for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction programs and projects in the amount of P70 billion, will also include specific funding for the rehabilitation of the Visayas on top of the existing calamity fund to be sourced from items which can be postponed in the 2014 national budget. (MNS photo)

Senator Chiz Escudero said the MRT corporate structure is a mess, causing delays in the implementation of long-overdue transportation projects aimed at improving the mass transport system.

Speaking to reporters after a hearing by the Senate Committee on Finance to look into the financial absorptive capacity of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to carry out projects, Escudero said the current system governing the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) operational control and ownership remains a contentious issue that impedes the future development of the MRT.

“The MRT system’s corporate structure is a mess,” Escudero said. “Until now, the issue as to who has the right to what, what the government’s rights are under the BLT (build-lease-transfer) contract have yet to be settled.”

He noted that even during the past administrations, the government and the MRTC have been at loggerheads as to who should shoulder the acquisition of additional new trains. “Apparently for 12 years, the MRTC and the government stared at each other. When the government finally decided to buy new trains, the private counterpart filed an injunction to the detriment of the riding public.”

With the lifting of the temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by the MRTC to stop the DOTC from purchasing new trains, Escudero expressed optimism that there will be no legal challenges along the way.

“Now that the TRO is already lifted, the DOTC has already given a notice to proceed to the train manufacturer in China. New trains will start coming in February of 2015, every month from then on there will be train deliveries. We hope the DOTC can really deliver on its schedule and not be stymied by one reason or another,” he said.

According to Escduero, he will introduce a legislation that will require the posting of surety or cash bonds from parties who will seek injunctions against an ongoing government project.

He said these bonds will be equivalent to the amount added to the actual project cost as a result of the delay and should also cover the economic losses of the government arising from the delay.

“The government currently has fiscal spaces, the transportation agency should take advantage of this and deliver the much needed improvement to our public transport system and provide relief to the riding public,” Escudero said.

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