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Party-list solon snipes at DoTC for ‘non-collection of penalty’

The Transportation department was asked to explain  the non-collection of the P52.78-million penalty charged on Global-APT Joint Venture on the requested sum for LRT Line 1 amounting to P7.2 billion and on the P63-billion MRT 7 Public-Private Partnership project.

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap cited the recommendation of the Commission on Audit  last May that the Department of Transportation and Communications should collect the P52.78 million in penalties from Global-APT Joint Venture for its inadequate service in maintaining the MRT Line 3 or keeping a sufficient number of train coaches to operate.

Hicap, member of the House Makabayan Bloc, said this failure has caused the deterioration of service to the commuting public.

“While the penalty charged on MRT service provider Global-APT for its deficient and broken-down operation and service is still not being collected, DoTC, on the other hand, is now asking for billions of pesos for its budget that is certain will end up in the coffers of private contractors such as the Ayala in LRMC; this very system is obviously squandering the hard-earned taxpayers’ money in order to serve private corporate interests,” Hicap said.

As for the contract between the government and the Light Rail Manila Corp., a corporation controlled by the Ayala Corp., Hicap demanded Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya to justify its request from the Budget department of a huge amount.

“P7.5 billion is not a measly sum and, especially as this forms part of the government’s continuing unjustified compliance to a very onerous contract, Abaya and the DoTC should not play evasive but honestly answer the public’s legitimate questions,” Hicap said.

In Abaya’s request letter to Budget chief Butch Abad, Hicap said the DoTC was explicitly asking for P5.04 billion to pay for the penalties incurred by the government in the maintenance and operation of the existing LRT lines, P106 million for deficit payment for the agency’s failure to implement a P12.13 minimum fare instead of the prevailing P11, P500 million for a so-called block account or the payment of future penalties to LRMC, P1.05 billion intended to defray losses on possible disputes regarding   certain items in the contract, and P444 million for the acquisition of the right-of-way.

“The requested budget of DoTC for LRMC is an outrage, it is allocating billions of pesos of funds for something that has yet to be consummated, while the commuters who need better services are being consistently victimized through unabated fare hikes,” Hicap said.

This developed as Abaya said the Transportation department stood by its decision to build the common train station linking the LRT and the MRT at the Trinoma Mall instead of SM North Edsa as this would be more convenient for the riding public.

Abaya, in a budget hearing at the Lower House, said the Trinoma Mall common station would be more convenient for commuters as this will link the LRT-1, MRT-3 and the planned MRT-7 stations.

“We are confident that we can easily build the common station in Trinoma instead of SM North, and we are confident we can beat the deadline,” Abaya said.

The Transportation department has set a deadline of 24 months for the construction of a common station in Trinoma and 18 months for SM.

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