MRT-3 GM offers to quit after rebuke from Speaker

APOLOGY ENOUGH?: MRT3 General Manager Rodolfo Garcia apologizes to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for raising his voice during the hearing of the Committee on Transportation. Alvarez questioned the competency of Garcia in running the MRT3, saying that its problems seemed to have gotten worse a year after Garcia was tapped to run the mass transit system.

METRO Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) General Manager Rodolfo Garcia has offered to resign after getting a stinging rebuke from Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez about the continuing woes of commuters with the mass transit system.

Garcia made the offer to step down from his post on Wednesday’s joint hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Committee on Public Works and Highways. Alvarez joined the latter part of the hearing, which dealt with railway safety and related issues.

Alvarez said commuters had long been suffering with the service of the MRT3, including the ordeal of having to stand in long queues and overcrowding in the trains, not to mention the frequent breakdown of the system.

Garcia claimed that they were looking to augment the present number of MRT3 coaches by using the Dalian coaches.

However, Alvarez said that the signalling system of the Dalian coaches was not compatible with the present system and challenged Garcia if he was sure of what he was telling the committee.

“Then, I will resign kung hindi ako sigurado,” Garcia said in a stern voice.

Members of the committee reminded Garcia to accord proper respect not only to the committee but to Alvarez. Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said that if the committee so decides, it can order his detention and asked him to apologize.

Garcia said sorry to the committee. Later, he approached Alvarez and apologized to the Speaker. He narrowly escaped being cited for contempt as a motion for such purpose was withdrawn following his apology.

Opposition lawmaker Rep. Raul Daza noted that in his long service as a member of the House, Alvarez was the only Speaker who had taken the time to participate in hearings of the various committees.

Earlier during the hearing, Alvarez noted that Garcia, who was a retired police general, had no real experience in the running and maintenance of a train system. Alvarez took issue with Garcia’s claim that his mandate was to make sure the MRT trains were running.

“Hindi mo natanong kung kulang ba (ang coaches?). Ang haba ng pila anong gagawin mo? Di magdagdag ka ng train, di ba? Eh kung ganyan yung nasa isip mo how you will manage MRT 3 na ang laki-laki na ng problema? ibigay mo yan doon sa marunong,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez stressed that the real mission of the MRT 3 train managers is to ensure the convenience of the riding public as well as the safety and cleanliness of the mass transport system.

According to the data of the committee, the original specification of the MRT3 system is designed to serve 300,000 passengers a day with at least 20 trains. At present, MRT3 officials admitted that the system is accommodating an average of 350,000 passengers daily with about 10 trains running.

“Tingnan mo kung convenient ba yung pasahero. Safe ba sa kanila ang pumila ng kahaba-haba? Ilang kilometro yung pila. Ito yung kinakampanya nung Presidente nung eleksyon: nirereklamo niya, kawawa yung mga tao, kahaba ng pila. Nilagay ka diyan para ayusin ang problema,” Alvarez said.

In an ambush interview, Alvarez said he was questioning the competence of Garcia to run MRT3 but that he was stopping short of asking him to resign.

“Ayokong manawagan,” Alvarez said.

However, Alvarez said that Garcia seemed bent on stepping down from his post.

“Kanina nung tinanong ko, my last question, kung talagang seryoso. Ang sabi naman niya, oo, seryoso siya,” Alvarez said.

Towards the end of the hearing Alvarez asked Garcia if he was serious in his offer to resign.

“Yes, your honor. Medyo pressured na po ako as GM. I’m contemplating getting out,” Garcia said. p: wjg