Senate probe on MRT mess not driven by ‘revenge’ — Poe

MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe on Friday said that the decision to revive the Senate probe into questionable contracts involving the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) should not be interpreted as “revenge” against officials during the previous administration but to simply determine where the deals went wrong.

“Hindi tayo bumabalik para maghiganti, bumabalik lang tayo para mailagay sa ayos, para una hindi maulit muli at pasensya na, doon talaga sa mga mali ang ginawa, dapat talaga, pagbayaran nila yun,” Poe said in a TV interview.

(“We are not reviving the hearing out of revenge, we are reviving it to determine and correct mistakes, so that there would no longer be a repeat of mistakes that happened in the past. Apologies to those who have made mistakes, but they need to be held accountable for it.”)

She made this clarification three days after former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya appeared in a Senate probe to explain the process the agency went through in awarding the maintenance contract to newly-incorporated firm PH-Trams.

During the hearing, Abaya admitted that when he was newly-appointed as Transportation chief, he approved an emergency contract with a new maintenance provider, PH Trams instead of the original provider, Sumitomo despite not knowing the “particulars.”

Poe said that it was suspicious why the DOTC decided to award the contract to PH-Trams which was only incorporated two months before it was awarded the MRT 3 maintenance contract. The company also had only PHP625,000 in paid-up capital but it was awarded a PHP54 million per month maintenance contract.

He explained that he felt he needed to sign it “in good faith” otherwise MRT-3 operations would have stopped in October 2012.

Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, pointed out that it was after the deal was signed where the MRT-3 coaches started breaking down more frequently.

The senator said that she was aware of the tendency for the current administration to go after officials from the previous administration which would rather “move on” from past mistakes.

She acknowledged the need to move on and move forward but stressed that before this could happen, the mistakes should be addressed first.

“…Hindi ito laban sa ilang personalidad pero sa tingin ko napaka-obvious naman na pumasok tayo sa isang kasunduan na lugi talaga ang mga tao, lugi ang gobyerno,” Poe said.

(“This probe is not against any personality but I think it’s obvious that we entered into deals where we were at the losing end.”)

“Ilang beses nasira ang mga tren, nadiskaril pa. Parang hindi naman tama yung ginagawang trabaho kung sasabihin ‘eh kasi pinagkatiwalaan ko yung nakaraang nakaupo so hindi ko na kailangan ireview yan.’ Mali naman yung ganoon na rason,” she added.

(“The trains have broken down several times and even derailed. The job they did is not right if they say you trusted your predecessor so you no longer need to review it. That reasoning is wrong.”)

Before Abaya, former Liberal Party President and standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II was Transportation Secretary. ANP/