derailed train
A security guard checks a coach of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) for injured passengers after it derailed at the train station in Pasay city, metro Manila, PhilippinesReuters

Tens of thousands of commuters who are constantly late for work because of delays due to daily breakdowns in the train service will soon get 'certificates of delay'.

The incident report will only certify the cause of the delay but will not be worded as an excuse letter for tardiness, Transport department spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal told AFP.

"It's up to the requesting individual how to use it," he said, when asked if the document could be used by commuters as an excuse letter to employers for coming in to work late.

AFP noted that Manila's Metro Rail Transit has only seven trains for half a million passengers, with its locomotives stopping mid track frequently.

"This is a transparency measure. People deserve to know what problems occurred, anything that could cause a stoppage from a broken rail to air-conditioning that stopped working," Sagcal said.

However, the MRT's general manager Roman Buenafe admitted on television that getting an 'incident report' could take a few days as technical personnel check the cause of the delay.

"It's not an over-the-counter thing," he said.

When the rail service opened in late 1990, it had 20 trains in operation, each with three cabs but after years of neglect, aggravated by disputes between the government and its private partner, the number of running trains has fallen to just seven, AFP said.

"We understand the frustration of the public ... We are doing the best we can but solutions are not overnight," Sagcal said.

A prototype of 48 new trains that the government plans to install by next year will be tested in November and rust-eaten rails will be replaced within the year, he added.

Public's reaction to 'excuse letter'?

So how has the public reacted to the proposal? So far, they are not impressed.

Francin Cruz, an advertising art director says she has to queue for three hours every night for a 25 minute train ride from work to her house and has given up taking the train during the morning rush hour.

"I will not fall in line again with the same number of people just to get an excuse slip," she told AFP.

The opposition group Bayan was also against it. "Commuters do not need excuse slips. They need improved services. They need trains to stop breaking down all the time," Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said.