SM Group ‘not delaying’ the P65-B LRT 1 Cavite extension project
MANILA, Philippines – The group led by retail tycoon Henry Sy clarified it is not delaying the P65-billion Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT 1) Cavite extension project.
Listed SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI) is not seeking an injunction on the government’s biggest public private partnership (PPP) project, SMPHI legal counsel Ryan San Juan said in a text message Friday, June 6.
The Light Rail Manila Consortium led by infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and conglomerate Ayala Corporation on Thursday, June 5, offered P9.35 billion to undertake the LRT-1 Cavite extension project.
Department of Transportation and Secretary (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in an interview Thursday that the Supreme Court, not a regular court, could stop a major infrastructure project. It was at a regular court where SMPHI sought for an injunction.
“SM is not restraining the LRT 1 project. In fact, SM wants it to proceed,” San Juan said.
SMPHI filed a case before the Pasay City regional trial court (RTC) against DOTC and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) seeking an injunction to prevent the transfer of the proposed common station to the Trinoma Mall—a breach of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed with LRTA September 28, 2009.
In its petition, the SM Group cited the MOA, which states that the common station would be constructed in front of SM North EDSA and would be named SM in exchange for P200 million.
SM added that Section 3 of the MOA specifically provides for the grant of access way or an interconnection of the common station via a bridgeway to the pertinent level of the mall.
“The prayer for injunction is limited to enjoining the DOTC from acting in any way which is inconsistent with the terms of our MOA. We are just protecting our rights under a valid and subsisting contract,” San Juan added.
DOTC defended the government’s decision to transfer the proposed P1.4-billion Metro Rail Transit-Light Rail Transit (MRT-LRT) common station to Ayala Land’s Trinoma mall instead of SM Group’s North EDSA mall.
Abaya admitted the MOA signed in 2009 indeed specified that the proposed common station location would be located at SM North EDSA. The revised location though was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). “Clearly when we went up to NEDA we gave our reasons and this was approved,” he said.
Abaya also said DOTC conducted a study that showed the government would save between P800 million and P1 billion if the proposed common station were constructed near the Trinoma Mall. “… There is a clear difference of roughly P800 million to P1 billion in cost. That in itself is a factor,” he added.
“It was the LRT 1 bidders, all of them, who requested to package the project within the LRT 1 Cavite extension project,” Abaya added, dismissing SM Group’s objection to the decision to include the proposed common station in the P65-billion LRT 1 Cavite extension project.– Rappler.com