MANILA (Mabuhay) – Amid the increasing accidents and breakdowns besetting the Metro Rail Transit – including trains running with open doors – Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday said the Department of Transportation and Communications surrendered P4.5 billion intended for new railcars to the Disbursement Acceleration Program in 2012.
“In 2012, the DOTC surrendered P4.5 billion allocated for purchasing additional cars for the MRT to the DAP. And as it seems, ito rin ang perang napunta para sa impeachment ni (this is the money that went to the impeachment of) former Chief Justice Renato Corona,” Binay said, citing documents submitted to her by the Department of Budget and Management.
The Supreme Court recently declared key provisions of DAP, the brainchild of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, unconstitutional.
Binay said if the reason for handing over the money for the purchase of new MRT coaches to the DBM was a pending case, what Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya should have done was ask Abad to allow the use of the P4.5 billion to improve the mass transit system’s facilities or to fund some of the items in the P6.8-billion MRT rehabilitation wish-list the DOTC submitted to the Senate committee on public services.
Aside from the procurement of new cars, the list included the overhauling of trains and upgrading of ancillary systems.
“The funding should definitely not have gone to DAP. Ang nakakalungkot po, ngayon nararamdaman ng ating mga kababayan ang mga problemang dulot ng hindi pagtuloy sa improvements sa MRT (What is sad is, our people are now suffering the consequences of not continuing the improvements to the MRT),” Binay said.
Citing last month’s incident, in which a defective MRT train overshot the end of the line and ended up on the street outside the Taft Avenue Station, injuring dozens of passengers, Binay asked: “Gaano karami pang pasahero ang kailangang masaktan rito (How many more passengers need to be hurt here)?”
She also cited other woes commuters suffer daily such as long lines and overcrowded trains.
“Tapos malalaman po natin na may nagawa na pala sana ang DOTC kung ginastos lamang nila sa MRT ‘yung P4.5 billion (And then we learn that the DOTC could have done something had it used the P4.5 billion for the MRT),” she said.
“Isipin ninyo na lamang po ang mga bagay na maaaring mapondohan ng P4.5 billion na ito. ‘Yun pong mga sirang hand-straps, pagpapagawa ng elevator at escalator, ‘yung pag-maintain sa kalinisan ng mga banyo, pagdagdag ng ticket booths para hindi mahaba lagi ang pila, at ‘yung iba pang mga parte ng serbisyo ng MRT na puwede sanang maayos sa tulong ng pondong ito, sana ay nagawa na, hindi ‘yung ngayon kung kailan tayo nahaharap sa mas malaking aberya, saka lang tayo aaksyon (Just think of what can be funded by this P4.5 billion. The damaged hand-straps, the addition of elevators and escalators, the maintenance of cleanliness in toiles, additional ticket booths to ease the long lines, and many other parts and services of the MRT that could have been fixed with these funds, instead of only acting now when we are facing larger problems),” Binay said.
“Ang tanong ko po (My question is): Common sense would dictate that we prioritize the immediate needs of the passengers, bakit hindi ito ginawa? Sa halip na pakinabangan ng mga pasahero, bakit kay Secretary Abad pa napunta (why was this not done? Instead of benefitting the passengers, why did it go to Secretary Abad)?” she added. (MNS)