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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communications (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.
DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in an interview, Thursday, June 5, that the body that could stop a major infrastructure project was the Supreme Court, not a regular court, where SM Prime Holdings Inc. sought for an injunction.
“Again, it is a clear policy this is a national infrastructure project in which a TRO by the Supreme Court will be the only way to stop it. I think the government should not be deprived of seeing things in a different light,” Abaya stressed.
Listed SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) filed a case before the Pasay City regional trial court (RTC) against DOTC and LRTA seeking 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.
Abaya admitted the MOA signed in 2009 indeed specified that the proposed common station location would be located at SM North EDSA. “It is mentioned there, what you have to look at is if the government obligated [it] to be there. It depends on how you read the MOA.”
The revised location of the proposed common station 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.
He also dismissed the objection of the SM group to the decision to include the proposed common station in the P65-billion LRT 1 Cavite extension project. “It was the LRT 1 bidders, all of them, who requested to package the project within the LRT 1 Cavite extension project,” he said. – Rappler.com