TRAIN FIASCO

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MRT

By Erick A. Fabian

PNoy and his Liberal Party cohorts are moving forward in their plan to sell the Philippines, one train system at a time, to Chinese corporate interests.

Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Rene Limcauco is being used as bait for the Chinese train companies, most probably with his consent, in a deadly game being played by Liberal Party appointees and presidential cousin Jorge Licauco.

Limcauco was one of the speakers at the 2013 Asia Pacific Rail, a rail industry event of which the speakers and attendees are mostly from China’s rail industry.

The deals that were made within and after the conference came into play as the MRT-3 expansion plans were rolled out.

Strategic Move
Usec Limcauco is co-chair of the Philippine National Railways and scion of the Limcaocos, owners of the Lica business group. His interest in the matter stems from his family’s intent to expand into the lucrative railway industry.

The Lica Group is known for its car dealerships, as a supplier of farming vehicles, and as a real estate developer.

It’s hard not to imagine that direct involvement with the MRT-3 operations will be of utmost profit for the group.

It’s a strategic move for expansion, and Chinese companies are scrambling for the kill.

News publications like South China Morning Post have given out the impression in its report last year that there is a billion-dollar gold rush in the Philippines.

Local transport systems are slowly being doled out by the Aquino administration via the DOTC to Chinese companies with close links to the government of China, as in the case of Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company.

Aquino Cronies
That President Benigno Aquino is being used as a spineless lackey for Liberal Party agenda is no secret. That he is a willing accomplice to their plans to squeeze and strangle the country’s economy dry of its lifeblood is nothing new either.

But what very few in mainstream media address is that PH Trams’ sudden appearance into the MRT-3 bidding scene looks like a trick orchestrated with deft hands by Aquino’s cohorts and their Liberal Party friends, so that they can keep the MRT -3 pie to themselves.

In Broad Daylight
It seems that very little effort was made by the incorporators of PH Trams to conceal the fact that it was made up of the same people who were either Liberal Party appointees or involved in the alleged Inekon extortion scandal.

It is very telling of how these people think of the public: they assume that the Filipino people are so used to being robbed that doing it outright would make not much of a difference.

This is an act of robbery because Filipino workers and commuters who rely on the train to get to work are not going to get the quality service that they deserve.

Public Safety, High Stakes
Our public safety is being played around in a game of high stakes that favors China’s plans for economic and political expansion in Southeast Asia.

The question still remains as to whether the trams to be supplied by Dalian Locomotive are safe enough to be used with the old Czech-supplied train technology.

The overcrowding in the stations might prove to add to the hazards, not to mention potential casualties should the Dalian trams fail.

PH Trams, despite its partnership with Comm Builders & Technology Corp., still has to create a track record, as it is barely a year old.

The CB & T partnership seemed like it was done as an afterthought, to provide credibility to PH Trams.

After all, the concerned public found it unbelievable that the bidding was awarded to a new company that does not even have a website as of this time.

Insider Maneuver
The practice of government insiders creating a new company to compete in government biddings, under the guise of being a privately incorporated outfit, has long been considered de-rigeur despite being questionable.

Some do it to cut costs, others to make kickbacks.

It often happens when an agency wants public biddings to play out in their favor. Quality of service is often sacrificed in such as practice, and the recipients suffer.

But those things do not matter when those who intend to benefit from these transactions see the money coming into their bank accounts.

Former MRT-3 manager Al Vitangcol’s resignation and his uncle-in-law Arturo Soriano’s leaving from PH Trams sounded like it was scripted, both being part of the game played so that Aquino’s LP appointees can move in without much protest.

Silent Expansion
Chinese companies have been eyeing prospects in the Philippines and all over the ASEAN region since last year, and most of them involve transport and rail systems.

We should learn from history that those who control the trains, will control the country. The opening of the American ‘Wild West’ in the 19th century was done through robber barons who controlled railroads and trains.

The Aquino administration may end in 2016, but the Liberal Party’s people and system will then be well-established.

Even as the ASEAN starts opening up trade relations in 2015, investors in the region will find that China has already gained a foothold all over, and its political-economic influence is what they will have to deal with.

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