Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade on Tuesday dared critics and militants to join them in solving transport problems instead of complaining and blaming the government.
“Sama-sama nating ayusin ang problema (Let’s fix the problem together),” said Tugade in response to a labor leader’s pronouncement that the government has failed to address the transport crisis following the disruption of train services in Metro Manila.
“The accident that happened in LRT-2 is something that is not of our own making, nor of our own liking. But, we encourage our countrymen to resort to “bayanihan” rather than “turuan” o “sisihan,” he said.
“Rest assured that the DoTr and its attached agencies are united in doing everything it can to bring back dignity in commuting, and to provide Filipinos a comfortable life,” added Tugade.
The secretary refuted Partido Manggagawa National Chair Renato Magtubo’s claim that the Philippines is in a mass transport crisis with the suspension of LRT-1 and LRT-2 and MRT-3 services last week.
According to Tugade, the Philippines is 20 years behind in terms of transport infrastructure but the Department of Transportation under the Duterte administration has been employing a catch-up plan to expedite the construction and operationalization of various air, land and sea transport facilities.
He said the Metro Manila Subway, MRT-7, LRT-1 Cavite Extension, LRT-2 East Extension, PNR Clark Phase 1, Common Station, PNR Calamba, PNR Bicol, LRT-2 West Extension, Subic-Clark Railway, and the Mindanao Railway are under construction.
“By far, we have completed 64 airport projects nationwide with 133 more ongoing; built and started operations of one landport; and completed 222 commercial and social/tourism port projects, with 122 more ongoing,” he said.
While the 20-year infrastructure backlog is being addressed, Tugade said it does not mean that problems will stop right away.
“Improvements will be experienced gradually. Case in point is the ongoing massive rehabilitation of the MRT-3 by its original provider, Sumitomo and Mitsubishi Heavy from Japan, which started in May 2019,” he said.
Tugade revealed that brand new rails have arrived, spare parts were delivered, air-conditioning units have been installed, and elevators in all MRT-3 stations have been made fully operational.
“Once completed in July 2021, it is expected that the number of running trains will increase from the current 15 to 20, speed will be doubled from 30kph to 60kph, and ridership will rise from 250,000 to 600,000 per day,” said the secretary.
On Sunday, Magtubo demanded that government provide a mass transportation that is reliable and efficient as soon as possible with the disruption of train services.
Magtubo also complained of the long queus in MRT and LRT stations and longer travel time caused by tremendous traffic in Metro Manila.
Julius Cainglet, Federation of Free Workers vice president, also complained that commuters who are forced to hail Grab or Angkas so they won’t be late for work or important appointments spend hundreds of pesos per day that they could have spent on food, electricity bill and other basic necessities.