SC stops transfer of common train station

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Friday, August 1, 2014

(Updated) AN INDEFINITE stay order was issued on Wednesday by the Supreme Court (SC) against the government's plan to build the common station interconnecting three railway lines in front of Ayala-owned Trinoma Mall instead of nearby SM North Edsa in Quezon City.

At the same time, the SC First Division chaired by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno ordered the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to comment on the petition filed by SM Prime Holdings Inc. within 10 days.

The petition said the transfer violated the memorandum of agreement between the LRTA and Sy-led SM Prime dated September 28, 2009, adding the company received the nod of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) two months prior to the MOA signing.

It also paid the government P200 million for the naming rights of the project, which will link up the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT 1), the Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3), and the upcoming MRT-7, which will run from the Common Station to San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue.

SM Prime said the LRTA and the DOTC violated the constitutional provision against the non-impairment of legal contracts when they changed the location of the common station without the firm's consent.

"Whatever reason LRTA and DOTC had in mind in reneging from their obligation is unjustified because no one, not even abrogate the sanctity of contracts even in the guise of public welfare," the petition stated, noting that the government should have filed a case of rescission of contract in a proper court.

After bagging the P1.4-billion contract, the government and SM Prime carried out the construction design of the common station, including the bridgeway that will interconnect the station and SM North Edsa.

The government, meanwhile, started the bored piling works in front of the giant mall, which reportedly has one of the highest levels of foot traffic in Metro Manila consisting mostly of public commuters.

But all of a sudden, construction works stopped without LRTA and DOTC informing SM Prime of the reasons for the stoppage.

SM Prime repeatedly asked for explanation from agencies from June 14, 2011 to December 17, 2013 but these were allegedly ignored.

Last May 6, SM Prime wrote the LRTA and DOTC demanding from them to resume the construction activities of the common station in front of SM North Edsa, the largest shopping mall in the country, but to no avail.

Ten days later, the DOTC announced the transfer to Trinoma Mall. (Sunnex)

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