Chiz says DOTC
plans to spend P15.7-B in 2016 to solve MRT, rail sector woes
By Office of Senator Chiz
August 9, 2015
PASAY CITY – Sen.
Chiz Escudero said the Department of Transportation and
Communications’ (DOTC) P43.5-billion budget request for 2016 should
allow it to field more trains, end long queues at MRT stations and
start the long-delayed line extension projects, since almost 41
percent of the agency’s proposed spending plan is earmarked for the
Escudero, who was former
chair of the Senate Committee on Finance until he resigned on July 28
out of “delicadeza,” said that based on the DOTC request, it plans to
spend some P15.7 billion to address the problems plaguing not just the
MRT, but the Philippine National Railways (PNR) and the LRT, as well.
According to Escudero, it is
only right to attach “measurable performance” to every peso that the
DOTC is asking in taxpayers’ money to subsidize the rail operations.
“The DOTC says it will speed up transfer time in stations from 10
minutes this year to 5 minutes next year. Ang una ngang dapat itanong
10 minutes nga lang ba ang waiting time sa MRT ngayon?“ Escudero said.
The DOTC also vowed that overloading in MRT trains would go down to
157 percent from to 171 percent. “Is this decrease in load factor
doable or drawing lang? Ilang bagong train ba ang parating para masabi
natin na maiibsan na ang siksikan?“ the senator added.
These pledges are among the MRT-related performance indicators the
DOTC has spelled out in the national budget.
With these deliverables, the DOTC is asking Congress to appropriate
P7.09 billion in MRT-related expenses broken down as follows: P1.96
billion for operation and maintenance; P1.5 billion for rehabilitation
and capacity expansion; and P3.63 billion as subsidy for “mass
The latter would cover deficiencies in “settling prior and current
years’ obligations for equity rental, maintenance fees and others
obligations” in case “farebox revenues” are insufficient to cover
those, Escudero said, explaining the special budget provision the DOTC
wants to govern its use.
Escudero said the “Senate’s strict scrutiny of rail-related
appropriations should extend to other lines kasi hindi lang naman sa
MRT mahaba ang pila at may aberya ang mga tren.”
One such firm is the Philippine National Railways (PNR), whose
performance guarantee is to provide “safe and reliable rail services
for the Metro South Commuter Services,” the line running from Tutuban,
Manila to Calamba, Laguna.
The government is asking P1.32 billion in operating subsidy for the
PNR for 2016.
Another budgetary subsidy – to the tune of P1.42 billion – is being
set aside for the Light Rail Transportation Authority (LRTA), with the
promise that the agency will field one train every 3 to 4 minutes
during peak hours in its Roosevelt-Baclaran Line 1 and one every 5 to
6 minutes in its Pasig-Recto Line.
“Kaya dapat itong mga pangakong ito ilagay sa tarpaulin sa bawat
istasyon. Because these promises are not just made to Congress but to
taxpayers who, by their payments, fund the national budget,” Escudero
The amount requested for LRTA is on top of the P6.75 billion
“construction budget” the DOTC is requesting for various LRT extension
projects, such as P1.62 billion for the LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension
Project and P2.9 billion for the LRT Line 2 Extension Project.
The DOTC is seeking P43.5 billion for its 2016 spending plan. This
does not include, however, budget subsidies to state corporations.