Malacanang expressed its support for Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade amid resignation calls due to recent unfortunate incidents involving MRT-3, citing that the government is doing its best to address MRT-3 problems that have accumulated for decades.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, while the palace understands public dismay over the MRT-3 system, calling for Tugade to resign will not solve the problem.
"He [Tugade] enjoys the full trust and confidence of the President. The President has said he will back up Secretary Tugade in whatever he may need to effect immediate reform to the MRT” Roque said in a press conference today.
Roque also assured train commuters that President Duterte is not indifferent to the suffering of commuters, and that he will carry his brand of political will to improve the country’s public transportation system.
“With the President assuming that he will be responsible for the MRT, let us give the President the opportunity to rectify the many problems that his administration inherited from the past. We will show the same political will that the President has shown in his fight against illegal drugs, in his fight against corruption, in bringing this vital service of transportation to the people as well,” he added.
While the ills of the MRT-3 system are the result of cumulative errors in policy and operational decisions made across previous administrations, Roque was quick to clarify that finger-pointing is not the practice of the Duterte administration.
“Hindi tayo naghuhugas ng kamay. Tinatanggap po natin ang paghamon diyan sa MRT na ‘yan at ang Presidente na mismo ang humingi ng paumanhin dahil nga dun sa palaging pagsira ng ating MRT,” Roque said.
“We are not resorting to finger-pointing. Sinasabi lang po namin lahat nung mga naging problema, ‘yung pagpapalit ng maintenance provider at pagtatalaga ng BURI, ‘yan po ay ginawa sa nakaraang administrasyon. Hindi naman po pupwedeng overnight na mapawalang-bisa ‘yan,” he added.
The DOTr has already terminated the contract of Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI), the system's maintenance contractor, citing poor performance and inefficiency, among others. Charges against officials responsible for the current state of the MRT-3 system have already been filed, demonstrating that failure to deliver on the responsibilities of public office carries consequences, and that those accountable will be held liable.
On an operational level, the entire Philippines railway sector — DOTr, MRT-3, LRTA, PNR — have been called on to form the MRT-3’s Maintenance Transition Team (MTT) upon BURI's contract termination. Since the team took over, fewer incidences of unloading have been recorded and more train sets have been rolled out during peak hours.
The DOTr is also currently pursuing multiple options for getting a competent, qualified, and experienced maintenance service provider for the MRT-3 in the short- to medium-term.
And, finally, the DOTr already granted Original Proponent Status to the proponent of an Unsolicited Proposal for the rehabilitation, operations and maintenance of MRT-3. This is expected to solve the historical fragmented approach of running MRT-3 (separate owner, different maintenance provider, and different operator), which has contributed to the system’s current condition. The proposal, once implemented, is expected to restore MRT-3’s reliability and double its capacity in the medium- to long-term.
The DOTr reassures the public that it is determined in its commitment to restore convenience and reliability for the 500,000 daily riders of MRT-3, and that it will leave no rock unturned, until it has delivered on that promise.