POE TO DOTR: DECIDE ON MRT FATE

Sen. Grace Poe asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to immediately decide on the fate of the operations of EDSA MRT in the light of reports that a train carrying hundreds of passengers was detached while traversing interstation between the Buendia and Ayala stations in Makati City during the morning rush hour on Thursday, Nov. 16.

Sought for reaction on the need to stop the MRT service, Poe said: "Ang kailangan nilang gawin ay siguraduhin na ligtas ang ating mga mananakay. Ngayon, kung kinakailangan na itigil, alam natin na maaapektuhan halos limandaang libong mga mananakay pero kung iisipin naman natin ang maaaring bawian ng buhay dahil sa kapabayaan, baka kailangan lulunin natin ito ngayon pero ang importante talaga ay magdesisyon ang DOTr at 'pag may nangyari, akuin nila ang responsibilidad."

Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, told reporters in an ambush interview that safety of the passengers is paramount amid clamors to stop the operations of the MRT which would affect half a million passengers daily.

Asked if she could categorically say whether the MRT is safe, she said the daily glitches and technical problems are but symptoms of larger problems waiting to happen.

"Alam mo ngayon walang makakapagbigay talaga, ako kahit ako tanungin dito hindi ko pwedeng sabihin na talagang masasabi nating ligtas kasi kahit hindi ka naman isang inhinyero, makikita mo araw-araw may aberya, doon pa lamang ay parang nagpapakita na ng sintomas so siguro kinakailangan talaga may eksperto na itaya ang kanyang pangalan at busisiing mabuti at sabihin kung ititigil o itutuloy ang serbisyo dito pero ang DOTr kailangan na nilang maglahad ng kanilang plano," said Poe on the back of assurances from Transport officials during previous months that MRT is still safe.

The potentially catastrophic incident happened a day after the Transportation department said the MRT service has been improving.

One of the links between the trains reportedly broke resulting in detaching of the train at exactly 9:03 a.m., as workers resume their way to their workplace after the weeklong non-working days. Some 140 passengers had to be evacuated from the detached train. No one was reported injured. It was the second MRT glitch on a single day after the first technical problem where passengers had to be unloaded was logged at Quezon Avenue station at 8:57 a.m.

Passengers were unloaded and made to walk between Ayala and Buendia stations in Makati City after what the Transportation department said was a "train failure." Train operations, which were partially halted and only servicing North Avenue up to Shaw Boulevard station and vice versa--resumed after some 30 minutes.

"Kung kinakailangan ay itigil ang pagpapatakbo ng MRT, kailangan nilang sabihin, kailangan maglakas-loob sila dahil magagalit ang taumbayan kasi marami talaga ang mahihirapan na walang MRT pero ang importante ay ligtas sila. So kailangan mag-desisyon ang DOTr. Kailangan bang itigil ang pagpapatakbo ng mga tren para talagang mabusisi ninyo o mapag-aralan ninyo ang mga teknikal na bagay na magliligtas sa ating mga kababayan?" she added.

Poe said the daily technical problems seemed to push passengers to their peril.

"Ito nga yung problema natin, talagang natutulak na tayo halos sa pader. Yung masabi mo, yung MRT halos araw-araw mayroon talagang problema. Doon sa kasawiang-palad na nangyari sa isa nating kababayan na naputulan ng kamay, sintomas pa lang ito, tayo'y nakikisimpatya pero ang malaking problema na nakaamba d'yan na sana huwag namang mangyari ay yung problema talaga sa riles na dapat palitan. Yung signaling system para hindi magbanggaan itong mga tren na ito. Nakita na natin yung nangyari kanina, pinag-uusapan lang natin ang aksidente sa isang tao pero ito, humiwalay ang dalawang bagon," Poe said.

Poe said the DOTr should immediately come up with a program of work on how long the supposed rehabilitation will take place.

"Yun lang naman ang tanong diyan, ilabas na ang plano ninyo kung gaano katagal ang rehabilitasyon ng mga tren. Ano ang gagawin niyo? Mayroon ba kayong point to point buses na idadagdag? At bibigyan ba ninyo ng kompensasyon na libre ang ating mga pamasahe sa mga panahon na walang pagtakbo ang MRT, iyan ang tanong natin," added Poe.

Poe also backed moves for any warranted "emergency release of funds," even up to the extent of hiring of engineers and technical experts from abroad to examine the MRT and ensure the safety of passengers.

"Huwag na silang mag-isip kasi kung natatakot sila na maiibistiga sila ng COA [Commission on Audit] kasi ang pwede naman nilang sabihin kinailangang ipasok ang mga taong yan dahil emergency na talaga at kailangan nating ayusin ang MRT," Poe added.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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