MANILA - The Train Riders Network (TREN) is demanding the resignation of Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya following the derailment of a Metro Rail Transit (MRT) train that left over 30 people injured last Wednesday.
In a statement on Saturday, TREN spokesperson James Relativo criticized Abaya for allegedly being preoccupied with the upcoming 2016 elections instead of focusing on the country's public mass transport system.
Abaya is the president of the Liberal Party (LP).
"Abaya is always busy for the 2016 elections while grossly negligent on the task of ensuring that the MRT and the public mass transport system are reliable and safe. If Abaya does not have the delicadeza, we call on President Aquino to fire him," Relativo said.
He said aside from accountability, their group is also demanding change in the MRT system.
"While we can no longer change the fact that the MRT's original design and size do not fit the needs and potential of Metro Manila commuters, we could mitigate this through excellent management, regular maintenance and bold plans for expansion and improvement."
"None of that has happened. MRT (mis)management is controlled by private contractors, even as it is the President who appoints the general manager and taxpayer money of up to P5-billion has been spent annually to pay the debts of the stupidest private sector-led train management this side of the world," he said.
Relativo stressed that the change they are demanding does not include any fare hike. He said the problems in the MRT system would not be solved by a fare hike.
"A fare hike would be like rewarding the grossly incompetent, taxpayer money-addicted private management of the MRT," he said.
'Gov't should take over MRT ops'
Meanwhile, the National Commuter Council for Public Safety called on government to look into the possibility of cancelling all existing contracts on the MRT and take over MRT operations.
The call comes amid fears the train's alignment may have been compromised due to the pressures of use and over-capacity.
The commuter group's president, Elvira Medina, told ANC government should conduct a thorough check of the MRT system, and conduct repairs and the necessary upgrading during the train's off hours.
She said they will look into the legal measures they can take on the matter.
She also called for a holistic approach to rehabilitating the country's transport system.