Alvarez grills DOTr over ‘ambitious’ MRT-LRT common station

Mara Cepeda
Alvarez grills DOTr over ‘ambitious’ MRT-LRT common station
A visibly peeved Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez tells DOTr officials they must pay for the penalties out of their own pockets should they fail to complete the common station by 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez again slammed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for opting to build the proposed common station for 3 Metro Manila railways between TriNoma Mall and SM North EDSA. 

During a hearing of the House committee on transportation on Wednesday, March 15, Alvarez said DOTr officials must pay for the penalties out of their own pockets should the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-Light Rail Transit (LRT) Common Station not be completed by 2019.

The common station was originally set to be placed beside SM North EDSA in 2009 on the basis of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Light Rail Transit Authority and SM Prime Holdings after they paid the government P200 million for naming rights. 

But in 2014, the government insisted that the common station be placed near TriNoma mall to save P1 billion.

A compromise was eventually reached in September 2016, with all parties agreeing to build the common station between SM North EDSA and TriNoma

But DOTr Assistant Secretary Cesar Chavez said during the hearing that the initial processes to be taken even before the construction of the common station will take one-and-a-half years alone. 

For Alvarez, this just makes the DOTr’s plans too “ambitious.”

Na-realize ba ni Secretary [Arthur] Tugade ‘yan, na kumuha kayo ng lubid at pinasok niyo ‘yung leeg doon sa lubid?…Kasi ganun katagal eh. Baka tapos na ‘yung term ni President [Rodrigo] Duterte [pero] hindi pa tapos ito,” said Alvarez.

(Doesn’t Secretary Arthur Tugade realize that it’s like you took a rope and placed your own necks through that rope?…Because it would take a long time to be finished. It’s possible for this to still be unfinished by the time the term of President Rdorigo Duterte ends.)

Alvarez then asked if the DOTr will be required to pay for damages should it miss the 2019 deadline for the completion of the common station. 

Chavez replied in the affirmative, saying the government will be forced to pay damages worth P30,000 a day should it fail to finish the project on time. 

This peeved Alvarez. “Dahil nga mas gusto niyo ‘yung mas ambitious terminal na wala pang pondo, walang pang approvals. ‘Pag dumating ang oras na gobyerno na naman ang mape-penalize, hindi puwedeng bayaran ng gobyerno ‘yan!” he blurted.

(You wanted this more ambitious terminal that does not have funds nor approvals. When the time comes that the government will be penalized, the government cannot pay for that!)

“It should come from your personal money,” Alvarez added. 

The Speaker, who used to be Department of Transportation and Communications chief, had previously slammed the latest MOA for the common station. 

He said P2.8 billion was just too expensive for the government to be spending on the project. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.