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DOTC: MRT-LRT common station MOA with SM expired in 2011

Rappler.com
The 2013 NEDA-approved ruling is in effect, allowing the transfer of the common station, the agency claims

COMMON STATION. The DOTC eyes one bidding for the LRT 1 Cavite Extension Project and the proposed common station linking LRT and MRT. Photo courtesy of Trinoma Mall official Facebook page and AFP File/Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines – The memorandum of agreement (MOA) between SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) on the location of the proposed P1.4-billion Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit (MRT-LRT) common station expired more than two years ago.

The common station will connect LRT 1 from Baclaran to Monumento; MRT 3 from North Ave. in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City; and the proposed MRT 7 of conglomerate San Miguel Corporation. MRT 7 will run from Caloocan City and pass through Lagro and Fairview, Novaliches, Batasan, Diliman, Philcoa, before ending at EDSA.

The MOA signed by SMPHI and LRTA and was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on July 7, 2009 had lapsed in 2011, Department of Transportation and Communications spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said Monday, June 9.

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 of Ayala Land Inc.

“… The NEDA approval that SMPHI is referring to expired in 2011. The 2013 NEDA approval, which is in effect, allows the common station to be built in the more advantageous location at MRT 3,” Sagcal said.

In a statement, SMPHI clarified the MOA between SM Prime and LRTA as approved by the NEDA – Investment Coordination Committee had no expiry date provision.

“Assuming there was an expiration, SM was never made aware of, nor a party to it. Further, it could only be the DOTC/LRTA’s delay which caused the same. They cannot use their failure to timely implement the project to justify a sudden change in the location of the [common] station. They cannot use what was caused by their own fault to throw our contract away,” SMPHI said.

The MOA also stated that SMPHI would have the naming rights to the proposed common station in exchange for P200 million.

“… SMPHI was publicly quoted through its president in 2013 as saying that it does not mind where the common station is built, as long as it can exercise its alleged naming rights,” Sagcal said.

Last week, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya defended the agency’s decision to change the common station location.

He said the government would save between P800 million and P1 billion if the proposed common station were constructed near the Trinoma Mall instead of the SM North EDSA mall.

Sagcal added, “A crucial feature in transportation development is intermodality. Commuters should not have to walk long distances to transfer from one mode of transport to another. Our policy is to promote traveling convenience and efficiency for commuters, which is why we have chosen the end of the MRT 3 line as common station’s location.”

“At the end of the day, it is the interest of commuters and the general public that matter to us at the DOTC. What is important is that the riders of our LRT and MRT systems enjoy convenient, intermodal transfers.”

Sagcal also reiterated that only the Supreme Court could issue temporary restraining order or injunction to stop the major infrastructure project.

SMPHI clarified last week that it was not seeking an injunction on the government’s P65-billion LRT 1 Cavite extension project though it vowed to fight for the MRT-LRT common station contract. – Rappler.com

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