Lawmaker urges DOTr to cancel MRT build-lease-transfer contract

MANILA-- A militant lawmaker at the House of Representatives urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to cancel its build-lease-transfer (BLT) agreement with the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) for its inefficient maintenance of the MRT-3 system.

In a statement on Wednesday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate slammed the onerous contract between the DOTr and the MRTC, which basically bleeds the government dry with its poor maintenance and alleged financial losses.

While it had been the MRTC's responsibility to provide maintenance under the BLT agreement, the train company passed a Board Resolution transferring the maintenance responsibilities to the DOTr in 2010.

"Then and even now, we continue to pay millions of dollars monthly to MRTC which practically does nothing," Zarate said.

"Yet, despite the government shouldering what is otherwise the MRTC's responsibility under the BLT agreement, we will be paying MRTC approximately PHP75 billion to PHP100 billion in Equity Rental Payments (ERPs) until 2025, mainly because it is our supposed obligation under the disadvantageous agreement," he added.

The Davao-based solon noted that the ERPs were used by former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to pass on the financial burden to commuters through unwarranted fare hikes.

He added that fare rates prior to the hikes could already more than cover for the operations and maintenance of the MRT-3.

In its 2014 audit report, the Commission on Audit said that the Department of Transportation and Communication (now known as DOTr) assumed the maintenance responsibility over MRT-3 and failed to sanction MRTC for failing to comply with its contractual obligations.

The current maintenance contractor of the line, Busan Universal Rail, Inc., is also in hot water after a series of train glitches despite a four-day maintenance check during the Holy Week break.

Source: Philippines News Agency