Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday called for an independent audit of the China-made trains which remained unusable due to incompatibility with existing facilities.
"An independent auditor should come in," said Poe as she noted that in the event the government returns the light rail vehicles to China, the Philippine government will not be faulted without legitimate reasons behind it.
During the Senate hearing of the Department of Transportation’s proposed P75.6-billion budget for 2018, Poe pressed Transport officials to hire an independent auditor that has no political affiliations.
He said the 48 coaches supplied by Chinese firm Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. Ltd. are safe and can be utilized in the capacity-burdened EDSA MRT-3.
DOTr Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez said other governments have returned defective trains to Dalian, citing Singapore and Malaysia.
He said the department was constrained to deploy the new trains since the coaches do not have automatic train protection signals and are incompatible with the existing maintenance facilities.
He added that out of the 48 light rail vehicles that were delivered, only 29 have been installed with signaling system and only four trains can be deployed as revenue trains.
Dalian's contract, which was completed during the previous administration, states that the firm should have installed the signaling system that keeps safe distances between trains prior to the delivery to the country, Poe said.
MRT-3 rails can carry a maximum of 48,000 kilograms, but the Dalian trains weigh heavier at 49,000 kgs. per coach, which may put a strain on the rails, Chavez said.
Chavez said that out of the P3.8-billion contract cost, only P800 million have so far been paid by the Philippine government.
Poe earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 355 and had conducted an investigation into the unusable Dalian trains and called for the prosecution of those involved in the consummation of the contract that was said to have been disadvantageous to the government.
DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said they are reviewing documents and currently building up cases against those involved in the fiasco.
"We should learn a lesson from this. This is about who should be accountable. We should file cases against those people," said Poe.