DOTr urged to suspend payments for MRT-3 maintenance provider

MANILA-- An administration lawmaker on Monday called on Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to withhold monthly payments, including previous billings, to the MRT-3's maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc (BURI).

In a statement, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles said the government could even ask for a full refund of all previous payments for BURI's failure to comply with the terms of their anomalous contract.

Nograles also disclosed that MRT-3 general manager Rodolfo Garcia endorsed BURI's payment claim to the DOTr amounting to PHP35.52 million for the period of December 2016 to January 2017 amid doubts to the validity of the service contract inked during the previous administration.

Garcia made the request in a memorandum dated June 30, 2017 to DOTr Officer-In-Charge (OIC) Undersecretary for Railways Eduardo Mangalili.

"Why is it that GM Garcia and his OIC Director Deo Leo Manalo are so much in a hurry to pay BURI knowing very well that issue can lead to a plunder case? Which side are they on? Are they really working for the government and the MRT commuters or are they working now for BURI?" Nograles asked.??

"What is in this contract that makes them so obviously sympathetic to BURI despite all the sufferings of the commuting public due to BURI's failure to comply with the terms of their contract? Even the COA is hot in investigating the anomalies," he added.?

Last June 28, BURI sent to Tugade "Billing Claim No. 12", signed by its authorized representative Eldon Uy, as a payment demand for the services rendered by the maintenance provider covering the period of December 19, 2016 to January 18, 2017. ??

"As of this time, the Officer-In-Charge of the Office of the Undersecretary for Railway and Toll Roads (Mangalili) had not considered the processing and approval of the said Billing Claim No. 12 as not constituting the day to day operations of said office, and of which, according to him is not within his authority to perform as Officer-In-Charge," Uy said.??

Mangalili explained that the monthly payment cannot be approved because several undelivered items as required in the contract have no corresponding amount which should be indicated and referenced with the "Bill of Quantities" submitted by BURI.

"Clearly, Undersecretary Mangalili was right to decline the request for payment because how can you pay something that cannot be clearly quantified? Why would the tax payers pay for a service that is so sloppy and so overpriced?" Nograles said.

Nograles earlier asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit on the procurement, contract documents and payments made to BURI relative to its maintenance contract with MRT 3.??

"For the first eight billings of BURI, the latter was paid the full monthly contract amount, deducting only such appropriate penalties for failure to meet Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in terms on number of running trains deployed for revenue operations, and service interruptions," Nograles said.??

"Very evident is the said first eight billings, and which BURI readily admits, that the corresponding amounts for undelivered spare parts and undelivered services( pending works) which are clearly included in the scope of works and obligations of BURI, were not deducted," he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency