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The J Spotter

Personal insights from the J Spot author J. Angelo Racoma
( this site has moved to http://jangelo.racoma.net )

The J Spotter » Philstar: Outdated info and legal implications

Philstar: Outdated info and legal implications

I wonder how they come up with these stories? The Philippine Star last 29 October, published an article (the link is to a google-cached version, since Philstar.com does not archive articles older than a week) stating that the "MRT4 [is] most viable among rail systems in Metro" according to a study. Reading onward, the article states that:

"The proposed Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 4 is considered the most viable of the rail transit systems in Metro Manila based on a foreign-assisted study undertaken by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

"The findings were contained in the Metro Manila Urban Transportion Integration Study (MMUTIS), which devised an integrated urban transportation system for Metro Manila for the target year 2015.

"The MMUTIS was undertaken from March 1996 to February 1999 with technical assistance from the Japan Internatinal Cooperation Agency (JICA)."


Further,

"The DOTC, in an order dated Oct. 23, 2001, has prescribed the adoption of the Railway Master Plan proposed by MMUTIS, which includes MRT4 as "Priority A project." Subsequent study of the postoned MRT4 project showed that it integrates well with the Arroyo administration’s focus towards urban transportation development."

Now, while the MMUTIS is still accepted by transport specialists as a benchmark for performance and priority in evaluating projects of this nature, I am not so sure whether the finding that "[line] 4 is considered the most viable of the rail transit systems in Metro Manila," is still valid and binding, given that the study was formulated more than four years ago. The economic aspects of the study may be already outdated!

Such articles make one wonder on the true motives of media in its publications. Processing of the MRT4 project has been long put on hold, pending conditions set by government in approving the BOT proposal first-pass (i.e. project approval; second-pass approval would be for the contract/BOT agreement). Legal issues likewise abound, which the Department of Transportation and Communications would still have to resolve with the concerned private sector proponents and government's lawyers. Is the MRT4 consortium going as far as raising the matter for judgement by public perception?

In the first place, the MRT4 was submitted as an unsolicited Build-Operate-Transfer proposal, per the amended BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, which stipulate, among others, that,

" ... Unsolicited proposals for projects may be accepted by any government agency ... Provided, That, all the following conditions are met: (1) such projects involve a new concept or technology and/or are not part of the list of priority projects ... "

Hence, since the Philstar article likewise cites that "[t]he DOTC, in an order dated Oct. 23, 2001, has prescribed the adoption of the Railway Master Plan proposed by MMUTIS, which includes MRT4 as 'Priority A project,'" the MRT4 project as proposed by the private sector proponent would be effectively killed off, since (1) the project may no longer be pursued under unsolicited mode; and, hence (2) being a priority, the concerned agency, DOTC, would now have to open the project for bidding (i.e. solicited mode).

Now I really wonder.

Caveat: The foregoing observations, statements and representations made are the personal opinion of the author, based on his experiences with such matters, and not in a capacity representing any government agency or any other entity.
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