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Gisado sa sariling mantika: Gov’t incurs P6B debt from LRMC due to right-of-way issues – ACT-CIS

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap (ACT-CIS) said government has incurred debt amounting to P6 billion from the Light Rail Management Corporation (LRMC) due to issues surrounding its acquisition of right way for the LRT-Line 1 extension project.

Yap in an interview on Monday said the LRMC—a consortium of the Ayala-led AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., the Pangilinan-owned Metro Pacific Investments Corp., and Australian firm Macquarie Infrastructure Holding—has charged the national government with that said amount due to delays in acquiring the right of way of the extension project for the 11.7-kilometer Baclaran-Bacoor segment.

Yap stressed Congress should investigate the matter since the said provision of the concession deal is onerous and disadvantageous to the national government.

“Eto yung mga sinasabi ng Presidente natin na disadvantageous contract sa gobyerno. Siguro, napapanahon na ring silipin natin ito dahil I’m sure hindi lang ito ang kontrata na lugi tayo,” said Yap.

President Rodrigo Duterte last Friday sought the review of the Light Rail Transit Authority’s (LRTA’s) existing contract with LRMC after learning that businessmen Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Manuel V. Pangilinan also have key roles in its operations—the same personalities in the controversial water concession agreement.

“Meron pang iba, siguro simulan natin dito. Then kapag gumulong na ito, hanapin pa natin yung iba pang mga disadvantageous contracts sa gobyerno na ibang mga private companies,” Yap added.

LRMC in 2015 has acquired the concession rights for the P65-billion Line-1 extension project for P9 billion, and it has already earner some P13 billion over the past four years, based on the documents received by Yap.

“Kung mapapansin niyo, ang MVP Group at ang Ayala… akuha nila yung concession. Binili nila ito sa government eh ng P9 billion something. Ngayon, allegedly kumikita naman sila eh. For 32 years yung P9 billion,” said Yap.

Yap thinks the government is being garnished by the LRMC using its own resources after being charged with multi-billion fine considering that its has other concession deals with the state.

Yap noted Aside from the Line-1 extension, the Ayala and Pangilinan groups through consortium AF Payments Inc. controls the “Beep Card” payment system of LRT Lines 1 and 2, as well as the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3.

AF Payments earlier announced a P10 price increase for Beep cards used in the MRT and LRT train lines effective January 1.

“So kumikita naman sila, pero syempre yung extension ng LRT 1, hindi pa tapos dahil sa pag-acquire ng right of way. Ang penalty na incurr ng gobyerno dahil hindi pa na deliver ang right of way, nasa P6 billion na,” said Yap.

Yap stressed that since the personalities behind LRMC are benefiting form from other various concession deals with the government, they should reconsider the fine it imposed to the state.

“So ngayon, kumita naman sila, dahil ngayon hawak nila ang ticket, hawak nila ang endorsement, lahat ng concession ng LRT-1, hawak nila. So kumikita sila, bakit kung hindi na deliver yung right of way, bakit nilang mag charge ng ganung kalaki? Eto yung mga allegedly ano (onerous provisions),” said Yap.

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