MANILA – The Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has issued a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) preventing the government from pursuing the expansion of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).
In a 2-page order, Makati RTC Branch 66 Judge Joselito Villarosa granted the petition of Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC), led by Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), and the MRTC Limited (MRTCL), which sought a preliminary injunction.
This, in effect, stops the DOTC from implementing a contract awarded to CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. of China involving the purchase of 48 brand new light rail vehicles.
“Wherefore, premises considered, the ex-parte application for a 20-day temporary order of protection is hereby granted upon the filing of the bond within five days from issuance of this order, in the amount of P300 million to answer for all damages which respondent may sustain by reason of the TRO if the Court should finally decide that the petitioner was not entitled thereto,” Villarosa said in the decision.
“Respondent (DOTC), its officials, employees, agents or any person acting in their behalf are hereby restrained from performing any and all acts related in any manner to its procurement of additional LRVs for the MRT3 and from committing any act tending to usurp and to violate the rights of MRTC under the BLT agreement,” he added.
Villarosa said that among the rights assigned to MRTC and MRTCL the agreement was a provision in paragraph 5.2 that it would only lose its preferential right to supply light rail vehicles if the MRTC is in breach of its obligation under the BLT Agreement, or if it consents to DOTC’s use of light rail vehicles which were not provided by MRTC.
The DOTC, however, awarded the capacity expansion contract to Dalian in January despite the BLT agreement.
Villarosa said the court found that there is an urgent need to preserve property, prevent the relief prayed for by the complainant, and prevent the DOTC from disposing of, or concealing, the property.
"The court finds that the reasons given by the petitioners are meritorious. The court hinges its ruling on the fact that petitioners have neither breached their obligation under the agreement or much more gave its consent to the DOTC pursuant to section 5.2 of their agreement," Villarosa said.
DOTC was given 15 days to file a comment to the order and the petition.
The MRT expansion project involves the acquisition of the 48 new trains to be able to use a four-car trains that would arrive every 2.5 minutes during peak hours.
In the current system, three-car trains arrive every three minutes during peak hours.