Still blaming Aquino admin? Time to prove yourself, Poe tells DOTr

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Friday, November 17, urged officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to "prove" that they can solve the perennial problems of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).

Poe said in an interview on radio dzMM on Friday that the DOTr will get the budget it deserves for the maintenance of the MRT3, but she asked the agency to also do its part.

"Nandiyan ang pera, ibibigay sa inyo ang pera, gastusin ninyo ng tama sa lalong mabilis na panahon. 'Wag kayong makukuntento sa pagsisisi lang sa nakaraang administrasyon. Kailangan na rin na patunayan din ninyo ang inyong sarili sapagkat lagpas na rin kayo ng isang taon diyan at wala pa kaming nakikitang kongkretong mga hakbang," she said.

(The money is there, we will give you the money, spend it right as soon as possible. Don't be content with just blaming the past administration. It's time you also prove yourselves because you've been in office for over a year already and we haven't seen concrete steps yet.)

The senator, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, said she even "took DOTr's side" when the agency ended its contract with the MRT3 maintenance provider "chosen by the previous administration" – Busan Universal Rail Incorporated.

"Pero nang tinanggal na nila 'yun, ano na ang ginawa nila? So meron na silang temporary na gumagawa ng maintenance, pero 'yung consultants na dapat ipasok nila, 'yung mga eksperto….Ano ba naman na ilabas na nila 'yung emergency funds nila para 'yung mga eksperto na 'yan mag-umpisa na ng kanilang assessment at trabaho," Poe explained.

(But after they removed that maintenance provider, what have they done? So they already have someone who's temporarily doing the maintenance, but the consultants that they have to bring in, the experts….Why can’t they release emergency funds so that those experts can already start with their assessment and work?)

But Poe said she sympathizes with DOTr Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez, even calling him "hardworking."

"Talagang masipag 'yan pagdating dito nga sa eksplanasyon na nangyayari sa MRT pero nag-iisa lamang siya. Siguro dapat din si Secretary [Arthur] Tugade, itulak na rin 'yung ibang kasamahan niya na talagang kumilos-kilos na," she added, referring to DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade.

(He's really hardworking when it comes to explaining what's happening with the MRT, but he's all alone. Maybe Secretary [Arthur] Tugade should already push his other colleagues to act on this.)

Asked if she would call for another Senate hearing on MRT3 issues, Poe said calling for more hearings won't solve the problem. She said she also does not want DOTr officials to say later on that they can't do their jobs because they keep attending hearings.

"Sa ating mga kababayan, maraming nagrereklamo puro Senate hearings 'di ba, pero hindi natin malalaman ang kapalpakan nila kung wala 'yan. Pero sa ngayon, ang emergency talaga ay ayusin nila ang MRT," she added.

(Many of our fellow Filipinos complain that we keep conducting Senate hearings, but we'll never know about their shortcomings without those hearings. But for now, the emergency is for them to fix the MRT already.)

The MRT3 suffered major incidents this week. On Tuesday, November 14, a passenger of the MRT3 lost her right arm in an accident at the Ayala Station. Her arm was later successfully reattached after an hours-long operation.

Two days later, up to 140 MRT3 passengers walked from Ayala Station to Buendia Station after a train car was detached from the train body. (READ: Poe: DOTr should decide if MRT3 ops should be temporarily halted)

The train line experiences near-daily glitches that temporarily disrupt operations and the schedule of their passengers. (READ: Commuters take to media to slam 'habitual' MRT glitches)

Poe on Friday suggested that the MRT3 put doctors on standby for medical emergencies. She also said officials must not overlook the possibility that the train got detached on Thursday, November 16, due to "human intervention" – which transportation officials had said they were also looking into. –

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.