The Monstrous Problem of Manila’s Metro Rail Transit (MRT)

The Monstrous Problem of Manila’s Metro Rail Transit (MRT)

By Apolinario Villalobos


The seemingly regular occurrence of crack, though, hairline in some portions of the MRT should have given a clear signal to the management that there is something wrong with the quality of the steel rails. Several years ago, China was prominently put in the limelight when inferior steel bars from the mainland that were supposed to be delivered to the provinces were intercepted. The locals dubbed them as fake steel which was not true, although, just of low-grade quality – inferior. Accordingly, they were sent back, but many are alleging that some are still stashed away in warehouses and being sold liberally. Steel is graded according to its quality that would suit its purpose, as well as, ability to withstand stress, and the grade must be compatible with the kind of welding rod to be used.


There is a question now, as to whether quality control has been observed in checking  the delivered steel bars of MRT or not, knowing how the tolerant culture of Filipinos is oftentimes observed in many projects, that has got to do with the “ pwede na” or “sige na lang” attitude.  In fact, when the new trains have been delivered, another problem came out, that of compatibility with the towing capability of the engine. The questionable quality of the steel rails has compounded the poorly-maintained elevators, escalators, and toilet facilities…making the MRT one of the monster problems of the Aquino administrations due to lackadaisical attitude of his supposedly trusted people.


Many are wondering why the Light Rail Transit which was built during the Marcos administration seldom encounters frequent problem on the cracked rails. Has it got to do with corruption? There is a general impression today, that corruption during the time of Marcos was stringently “controlled”, unlike the presence of such repugnant practice in practically, all levels of transaction today.

The Belated Reaction of Vitangcol…a hair-pulling regret!

The Belated Reaction of Vitangcol

…a hair-pulling regret!

By Apolinario Villalobos

Had Vitangcol revealed everything that he knew to explain his side, just when he was served his goodbye notice, he would not be pulling his hair today out of consternation after the Ombudsman has charged him as regards the Metro Rail Transit transactions, while those who signed the documents went scot-free. But first, he must accept the fact that without his endorsement, Abaya would not have signed any document…that is how the functions in an office flow, be it private or government. The boss signs if the assistant tells him that a certain document is OK as indicated by either his initial on the document itself, or a “top sheet” that consists of a covering endorsement/memo. If Abaya will go technical, he can wash his hands and be slapped with just a mild penalty.

Now, very belatedly, he is detailing how the different processes in the agency that he left are being done to show that he is the least guilty, implying at the same time, the serious culpability of Abaya, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication, being one of the principal signatories to the questioned transactions. Why did he maintain his eerie silence for a long time? Was he hoping that the Administration will interfere in his favor, as it is wont to do in other cases of supposedly favored President’s “aides”? Sorry for him, as Pnoy must have perceived him as just a mere insignificant personality, unlike Abaya who heads the Liberal Party!

Vitangcol should have understood how politics works in the Philippines before joining the “gang” so that he could have prepared himself if he would go on a spree of questionable undertaking, and which he did thinking that he was safely leaning on a solid wall which proved to be just a pock-marked presumption, so now he is reaping what he sow.

He clearly committed the same mistake that Purisima did – by stubbornly holding on to his dear, well-paid position, thinking that he is an important fixture in the Aquino administration. He even had the courage to exchange heated arguments with a foreign Consul who accused him of bribery, still thinking that the Administration would come to his rescue. He should have left his office posthaste as soon as he felt that his misdoings were already exposing him. Just like Purisima, he waited until the public’s irritation practically exploded on his face. As usual, their cases are one of regrets coming very much late…a painful lesson to learn!

Finally, Vitangcol should better stop acting like a cry-baby, and start organizing his defense if he does not want to lose his “well-earned (?)” and “honestly-earned (?)” benefits, or worse,… face the consequence behind the iron bars?

Ang LRT at MRT

Ang LRT at MRT
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang LRT ay ginawa noong panahon ni Marcos. Hanggang ngayon, ilang dekada na ang nakalipas ay wala halos narinig na aberyang nangyari sa pagpapatakbo nito. Ang MRT ay ginawa noong panahon ni Gloria Arroyo. Iilang taon pa lang ang nakalipas, nakakapanindig-balahibong mga aberya na ang sunud-sunod na nangyari at nangyayari na ang iba ay magkasunod sa iisang araw. Ang sabi ng marami, noong panahon ni Marcos, takot ang mga opisyal na gumawa ng katarantaduhan kaya magaganda at de-kalidad ang mga proyekto. Isa lang daw kasi ang korap. Subalit pagkapatalsik kay Marcos, nawala na ang takot ng mga opisyal kaya nagkanya-kanya na ng pangungurakot na ang direktang naapektuhan ay ang kalidad ng mga proyekto – isa na diyan ang MRT.

Nitong huling mga araw, naglabasan ang mga kuwento tungkol sa mga imported na materyales pangkonstruksiyon na mahina ang klase. Nariyan ang yero na animo ay cardboard sa kalambutan at bakal na kahit sa tagal ng pagkakatambak ay “lumiliyad” sa kalambutan. Isa sa mga “sakit” ngayon ng MRT ay ang pagkakaroon ng lamat ng mga riles na bakal, kaya kamakailan lamang ay kailangang paigsiin ang oras sa pagpapatakbo nito upang magkaroon ng panahon sa pagkumpuni ng riles tulad ng pagputol ng bahagi na may lamat upang mapalitan ng bago. Ang nakakabahala dito ay hindi na buo ang riles kaya mas lalong malaki ang posibilidad na ito ay maghiwalay sa dugtungan at mangyari ang pagkadiskarel ng mga bagon! Paano na kung sa pagkadiskarel ng mga bagon ay nahulog pa ang mga ito?

Ang tanong ngayon ay kung bakit hindi iginaya ang sistema ng MRT sa maayos na sistema ng tumatakbo nang LRT, lalo na sa klase ng materyales at disenyo upang “nagkakahiraman” ang mga ito ng mga kailangang piyesa, at upang ang pagmintina ay hindi mahirap. Hindi dapat idahilan ang bidding na dapat ay mababa dahil ang nakasalalay ay ang pangmatagalang paggamit at buhay ng mga mananakay.

Kamakailan pa rin ay nagkaroon ng isyu tungkol sa pangungurakot daw ni Vitangcol na dating namuno ng MRT, kaya tuloy nahantad na ang dahilan ng paghihingalo ngayon ng mass transport system na ito ay ang walang takot na pangungurakot!

Sa ngayon pinapatakbo ang MRT kahit may agam-agam pa rin upang kahit papaano ay maibsan ang problema sa pagbiyahe ng mga taga-Manila. Subali’t hanggang kaylan sila pahihirapan ng pag-alala na anumang sandali ay may sakunang mangyayari sa kanila….na sana ay huwag naman?

(LRT – light rail transit; MRT – metro rail transit)