MANILA -- An administration lawmaker on Monday hailed the decision of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to terminate the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) maintenance contract of Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), saying it is "better late than never."

In a statement, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles said aside from the contract termination, the DOTr should still pursue those behind the "anomalous" PHP3.8-billion maintenance service deal for criminal negligence and plunder.

"I'm really happy that (DOTr) Secretary (Arthur) Tugade has the political will to do the right thing for the sake of our hundreds of thousands of MRT3 commuters. This action of the DOTr has been a long time coming but it's still better late than never. For this, I thank Secretary Tugade for finally taking action," said Nograles.

"However, I think that after the termination, the DOTr should start running after those who were behind the anomalous contract. This is one big step in President Duterte's fight against corruption," Nograles added.

Nograles said now that the contract has been terminated, the DOTr should start the process of fully rehabilitating MRT-3 by ensuring that the government would not be on the losing end when it enters into another maintenance service contract.

"It really doesn't matter who takes over as maintenance service provider so long as the provider has a proper and valid contract and has actual and proven track experience," he said.

Nograles earlier filed House Resolution 1212 directing the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to investigate BURI's alleged installation of fake parts for the MRT-3.

For his part, Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao said DOTr's move was long overdue as he urged the government to assume the task of maintaining the MRT-3 rather than bidding it out to another private contractor.

“It is long overdue, it is not enough to terminate the contract with BURI, but also to hold them accountable for the unacceptable deterioration of the MRT system, that affected and endangered hundreds of thousands of the commuting public,” Casilao said.

“The government should start with the maintenance operations, for an eventual takeover of the whole MRT system,” he added.

Casilao said the government should also demand BURI to return the payments as it clearly failed to deliver decent service based on its contract.

In terminating the contract, the DOTr cited BURI's failure to address various issues such as poor performance, failure to ensure availability of the required number of trains, failure to implement a feasible procurement plan for spare parts and noncompliance with the requirements of a complete and up-to-date Computerized Management System.

"It cannot be overemphasized that what is at stake here is the welfare and interest of the riding public. This office could not just sit back and wait while watching BURI trifle and flirt with the lives of the commuting public, with its substandard performance," Tugade said in a statement.

To avoid service disruptions, the department has established the MRT-3 Maintenance Transition Team (MTT) that will temporarily take over the maintenance of the railway system while the procurement of a new maintenance service provider is being processed. The technical personnel from BURI will also be absorbed. (PNA)