SC halts transfer of LRT-MRT common station to TriNoma

Rappler.com
SC halts transfer of LRT-MRT common station to TriNoma
The High Court has given the DOTC and the Light Rail Transit Authority 10 days to respond to claims they have violated a 2009 MOA with SM Prime Holdings Inc

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the planned transfer of the proposed P1.4 billion ($32.03 million*) common station from SM City North EDSA to the Ayala Land-owned TriNoma mall.

In a decision issued Wednesday, July 30, the Supreme Court said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) violated the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dated September 28, 2009 with SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI).

The respondents were given 10 days from notice to comment – and not to file a motion to dismiss.

The Supreme Court also directed SMPHI to submit sufficient verification of the petition pursuant to Section 4, Rule 7, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedures and a proof of service of the petition on the adverse parties.

In a statement released Friday, August 1, SMPHI said the High Court’s TRO reinforces the company’s position on the case, now pending before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City.

SMPHI had asked the court to stop the agencies from transferring the common station to TriNoma mall from SM City North EDSA mall, citing the MOA signed with LRTA years ago.

SMPHI also claimed it had naming rights to the station after paying the government the sum of P200 million ($4.58 million).

The Pasay court junked on June 23 SMPHI’s application for a TRO and preliminary injunction. SMPHI then elevated the case to the Supreme Court.

The DOTC, for its part, said the MOA had lapsed in 2011, as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) had approved the construction of the common station at TriNoma.

DOTC has yet to award LRT extension project

The SC issued the ruling as the DOTC failed to issue the Notice of Award for the P65 billion LRT 1 ($1.49 billion) Cavite extension project to the Light Rail Manila Consortium on Friday.

DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said the agency intends to continue with the award of the LRT 1 Cavite extension project unless it receives stopped by the Supreme Court.

“We will continue working on the award unless and until we receive any TRO or injunctive writ from the SC. As we have said before, the DOTC will respect court issuances, but as long as we have not been legally prohibited from doing our work, we will continue pushing for our infrastructure projects since this is our commitment to the public,” Sagcal said.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the agency is now seeking an opinion from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on how to proceed with the issue concerning the common station, and the award of the LRT 1 Cavite extension project.

Abaya said that the LRTA Board Resolution approving the award of the public-private partnership (PPP) project to the Light Rail Manila Consortium is still awaiting signatures of two more board members.

“We are still awaiting a couple of signatures from the Board directors because of some issues raised to us by some stakeholders. We have referred the item to OSG so we are awaiting that,” Abaya said.

DOTC is likely to issue a Notice of Award to the lone bidder by next week, Abaya added.

SMPHI had previously clarified that it is not seeking to delay the LRT 1 Cavite extension project but is merely asking the government to honor the agreement it signed with the company.

“SMPHI now hopes that the DOTC and LRTA will respect, honor, and abide in good faith with the terms of the MOA and continue the construction of the common station on its original location across the SM City North EDSA Annex building, which was started as early as the beginning of the Aquino administration in 2010,” the company said in a statement.

The common station is part of the P65-billion LRT 1 Cavite extension project. It 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.

Infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corporation – the biggest shareholder of Light Rail Manila Consortium – is set to finalize the design of the proposed P1.4-billion common station. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P43.70

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