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Poe calls on Aquino to immediately replace DOTC chief Abaya

7 January 2016 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post
Senator Grace Poe (MNS photo)

Senator Grace Poe (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III should immediately sack Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya and no longer wait for him to resign over the supposed mismanagement of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Senator Grace Poe said Wednesday.

Poe issued her call amid the uncertainty on who will maintain the MRT after a South Korean Busan Transport Corp opted out of a new deal while German-Filipino joint venture rejected a one-month extension of its service.

“I urge the good President not to wait for Abaya to resign but to replace him immediately. Five months left is an eternity to our riding public. We have endured more than three years of Abaya’s incompetence and shortsightedness,” she said in a statement.

Poe said the situation is critical and the safety of the riding public is in peril with the seemingly nonchalant stance of the DOTC and MRT Management in not being upfront about the circumstance.

“The President can step in, take control of the DOTC and pull together all the needed government resources at its disposal to address the situation,” Poe said.

She added: “The safety of the riding public is of utmost importance. The reliability of public transportation should be a priority.”

She also said the potential major problems are waiting to happen with MRT3.

“This is likely as there is no more daily maintenance of train brakes and bogey wheels, daily inspection of tracks for cracks, daily testing of signaling as per SOP in any metro system. The situation is critical,” she reiterated.

Sought for comment, Communications Secretary Hermino Coloma Jr. said: “(The) performance of all Cabinet members is being assessed continually by the President as Chief Executive.”

“The President has tasked the DOTC and other concerned agencies to address day-to-day problems faced by commuters in the NCR. Additional transport infrastructure are also being built and planned to provide long-term solutions,” Coloma added.

As of posting time, Abaya has yet to respond to calls and text messages.

Poe had been calling for the resignation of Abaya for months over the unresolved problems facing the MRT.

In November last year, Poe said the country needs a “better DOTC secretary” and the President should assign someone in DOTC who is not only knowledgeable, but also has experience with the agency.

Christmas Eve awarding

Abaya has been in the headlines over the past week amid allegations made by Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc that the awarding of the three-year maintenance deal to a Korea-Filipino consortium was a scam.

The transport secretary has denied any irregularity in the awarding of the P3.8-billion maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) to the joint venture of Busan Transportation Corp., Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile Inc., TMICorp. Inc. and Castan Corp. via negotiated procurement.

Abaya noted that reporters from Philippine Star and other media outfits were present during the briefings that took place before the contract was awarded.

“Di ko alam kung ano ang scam dito… How could this be a secret when reporters mismo nila [Philippine Star] were part ng briefing namin. Alam nilang pumunta kami sa GPPB [Government Procurement Policy Board] noong first level presentation yun. Reporters [ng GMA] kasama namin, bini-brief namin noon,” he said.

The contract was awarded during the holiday season, with the DOTC identifying the winning contractor on Christmas Eve. Abaya said there is nothing irregular about the timing because the multi-disciplinary contract it had earlier awarded is set to expire on Jan. 4.

“‘Yung sinasabing kapaskuhan, eh matatapos na yung multi-disciplinary contracts by January 4. By January 5 dapat mayroon nang mag-take over,” he said.

“Alangan namang hintayin kong matapos ang kapaskuhan bago pa gumalaw ang BAC (Bids and Awards Committee), eh di gulo na naman ito kung sa Pebrero kami [mag-award]. Definitely walang milagrong nangyari dito. Ginagawa lang namin kung anong tama para di magkaroon ng aberya pagdating sa maintenance provider,” he said. (MNS)

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