SM’s petition for TRO on MRT-LRT common station denied

Rappler.com
SM’s petition for TRO on MRT-LRT common station denied
Despite the absence of a temporary restraining order, the Henry Sy-led group says it will still pursue the case against the government

MANILA, Philippines – Even if the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) junked SM Prime Holdings Inc.’s (SMPHI) application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction, the Henry Sy-led group is still insisting that the contract it entered into with the government on the proposed P1.4-billion ($32.10 million) Metro Rail Transit-Light Rail Transit (MRT-LRT) common station was valid and legally binding.

The common station will connect LRT 1 from Baclaran to Monumento; MRT 3 from North Avenue 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.

In a 7-page order dated June 23, Pasay City RTC Branch 111 presiding judge Wilhelmina Jorge-Wagan denied the application for TRO and writ of preliminary injunction sought by SMPHI against the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA).

The Republic Act (RA) 8975 or An Act to Ensure the Expeditious Completion of Government Infrastructure Projects prohibiting lower courts from issuing TROs, preliminary injunctions or preliminary mandatory injunctions was cited in the decision.

RA 8975 prohibits any court except the Supreme Court from issuing any TRO, preliminary injunction, or preliminary mandatory injunction to retrain or prohibit the government from acting on the location of any national government project; bidding or awarding a contract or project of the national government; and authorizing any other lawful activity for such contract.

The court would act contrary to the law if it ignores the statutory prohibition and issues a TRO against a government contract, Jorge-Wagan pointed out.

SMPHI also failed to allege and establish that its application for TRO was of extreme urgency involving a constitutional issue such that failure to issue would cause grave injustice and irreparable injury.

“In the absence of such extreme urgent matter, calling for the exception under paragraph 2, Section 3 of RA 8975, this court utterly prohibited from issuing the provisional remedies sought,” Jorge-Wagan said.

Fighting for the common station

Citing a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with government, SMPHI filed a case before the Pasay City RTC asking it to stop DOTC and LRTA from transferring the proposed common station to the Trinoma Mall of Ayala Land Inc. from the SM North EDSA mall.

The MOA also stated that SMPHI would have the naming rights to the common station in exchange for P200 million ($4.59 million).

The agreement entered into with DOTC and LRTA in September 2009 was valid and legally binding, SMPHI legal counsel Ryan San Juan said. (READ: Why SM is after the MRT-LRT common station)

However, the MOA signed by SMPHI and LRTA that was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on July 7, 2009 had lapsed in 2011, DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said June 9.

“It is regrettable that the Pasay City RTC denied SMPHI’s application for a TRO to prevent the DOTC and LRTA from performing acts inconsistent with the terms of the MOA,” San Juan said.

Despite such, the company would still pursue the case against the government.

“SMPHI will now focus on its main and more important case for specific performance, where it seeks to enforce its rights under the valid and legally binding MOA, the existence of which has been duly admitted by both DOTC and LRTA in court, and which has neither been cancelled or terminated by the parties,” San Juan stressed.

The company is still hopeful though that DOTC and LRTA would respect the MOA and abide in good faith with all its terms and conditions.

“To be clear, the TRO is merely an incident to the main case for specific performance. Trial on the main case will continue. DOTC has asked for an extension of time to file their answer,” San Juan said.

The judge also gave both DOTC and LRTA until July 1 to file an answer to the complaint. – Rappler.com

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