Aug 212014

Senator Francis Escudero urged the government to run after those responsible for the botched NorthRail project, which has already cost the government a total of $180 million, on top of the $50 million or P9 billion in outstanding loans.

During a hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance on the proposed 2015 national budget, panel chair Escudero questioned Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima as regards the botched project.

“We are paying so much for something we did not continue, that the Filipino people did not benefit from. Someone should pay for it, someone should go to jail and land in jail for this particular fiasco. The taxpayers are the ones paying this now,” the senator told Purisima.

For his part, Purisima admitted he has no information on the investigation on the NorthRail project.

“I fully agree, Mr. Chair. I will have to get back to you on that; I am not familiar on the latest on the investigation of the NorthRail. All I’m familiar with is the financial aspect of NorthRail,” he added.

Escudero asked Purisima to submit at the next budget hearing updates on the legal efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the Northrail project.

The 80-kilometer railroad system links Caloocan City in Metro Manila and Clark in Pampanga.

The project was contracted under the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo in 2003 to the China National Machinery and Equipment Corporation (CNMEC) for $421 million. However, in 2009, the CNMEC increased the contract price to $593 million, with the government agreeing to it.

In 2011, the Aquino administration scrapped the project after it was hounded with corruption allegations. Amanda Fernandez/NB, GMA News

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