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Anyare, DOTC? Poe to resume probe into MRT mess after maintenance partner backs out

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The Senate subcommittee on public services will resume its investigation on the state of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) operations soon in light of the news that the Korean-Filipino group which bagged the P3.8-billion maintenance contract for the railway line has backed out.

In an interview with Ted Failon over dzMM, subcommittee chair Senator Grace Poe said the hearing could take place even before Senate sessions resume on Jan. 19.

“Mayroon na tayong mga certain situations [na nangyari] kaya kailangan na nating magtawag ng hearing na ise-schedule na namin sa mga darating na araw sapagkat ang Senado magre-resume pa sa Jan. 19. From now until the 19th, ayaw naman nating may mangyari pa [sa MRT],” she said.

To ensure the attendance of key officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications, particularly Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Poe said the committee secretariat will call up the concerned resource persons in advance to ask them for the dates when they will be able to show up at the Senate.

She lamented that there had been instances in the past when DOTC officials were not around to answer senators’ questions because of another event supposedly in haste by the agency.

“Ang problema sa DOTC, kapag nagpatawag kami ng hearing, biglang magkakaroon sila ng out of town event o seminar. Kaya ngayon ang unang-una naming gagawin ay tatawagan sila para maitanong kung kailan sila pwede [para sa hearing],” Poe said.

There have been reports that South Korea’s Busan Transportation Corp. wants to back out of the deal it sealed with the DOTC last December due to possible legal concerns that might arise since the contract was awarded without public bidding.

Citing an emergency, the DOTC awarded the three-year maintenance contract for the MRT to Busan Corp’s joint venture with some Filipino companies via negotiated procurement.

Busan Corp. was supposed to take over the provision of maintenance services for the railway line beginning Jan. 5, after the short-term contract of the previous maintenance provider expired.