An unusually big number of commuters stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting for their train ride at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 station on Taft Avenue and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City on Thursday morning (March 27, 2014). The commuters, coming from as far as Cavite, are bound for their places of work in Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City. (MNS photo)

An unusually big number of commuters stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting for their train ride at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 station on Taft Avenue and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Pasay City on Thursday morning (March 27, 2014). The commuters, coming from as far as Cavite, are bound for their places of work in Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan and Quezon City. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The former chairman of MRT Corp. told senators the company had repeatedly proposed the procurement of new trains as early as 1999, but the government failed to act on its proposals.

At a Senate hearing on the MRT-3, Robert John Sobrepeña said the MRTC’s last proposal to the government was in 2007, but the Department of Transportation and Communications had begun to request for second-hand trains, instead of new ones.

“Our last proposal was in 2007, since all of these were not acted upon, we reiterated another proposal to provide 48 cars, capacity expansion, upgrade of the MRT-3 system, in 2007. At this year, the DOTC began to question us as to why we were buying new cars. They had the idea it would be cheaper if we bought second-hand trains in 2007. This took us aback and we refused to offer govt second hand trains. This led to a long impasse and discussions and letter-writing,” he said.

Sobrepeña said Sumitomo and Mitsubishi designed, built and maintained the rail system under the principle of a single point of responsibility.

But that changed in 2012, when the DOTC appointed a new maintenance provider.

“DOTC took control of the maintenance in year 2012 when it did not extend the Sumitomo contract, and in fact terminated it, and in the year 2012 appointed the maintenance contract to PH Trams… The loss of the single point of responsibility is the single most important loss we have had in the system. This loss has now led to current state of finger-pointing as to who is at fault for the sorry state of the MRT-3 system,” Sobrepeña said.

Senator Francis Escudero noted the problem appears to be a failure of communication.

“Tingin ko kasi isang problema kung bakit ganyan ang MRT, parang hindi kayo magkakilala eh. youre bound together by the asset itself to work together but you’re not even talking,” Escudero said.

However, Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya denied this, saying his department is in constant touch with MRTC chairman Tomas de Leon.

“We are in constant contact with MRTC. The MRTC chairman is Mr. de Leon. We have been in constant contact and communications with MRT,” Abaya said.

But Senator Grace Poe noted de Leon, a LandBank board director, is a government appointee.

However, Abaya insisted the DOTC has no obligation to reach out to MRTC’s private sector representatives. (MNS)