SM disputes DOTC's claims
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The National Economic Development Authority's (NEDA) approval to build the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) common station in SM North EDSA already expired in 2011, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said on Monday.
SM Prime has filed an injunction case before the Pasay court to stop the DOTC from moving the LRT-MRT terminal from SM North EDSA, as originally agreed upon, to Ayala's Trinoma mall. [http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/business/06/03/14/sm-sues-govt-over-lrt-mrt-common-station]
But DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said the NEDA approval on the SM station is no longer valid, and a new approval is currently in effect.
“First of all, the NEDA approval that SMPHI is referring to expired in 2011. The 2013 NEDA approval, which is in effect, allows the Common Station to be built in the more advantageous location at MRT-3. SMPHI was publicly quoted through its president in 2013 as saying that it does not mind where the Common Station is built, as long as it can exercise its alleged naming rights,” he said in a statement.
Sagcal added that only the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to stop a major infrastructure project.
“At the end of the day, it is the interest of commuters and the general public that matter to us at the DOTC. What is important is that the riders of our LRT and MRT systems enjoy convenient, intermodal transfers. This is also why it is only the Supreme Court can stop infrastructure projects of the government – to protect the public from attempts of those who have different interests from succeeding, unless justified at the highest level of the judiciary,” he said.
DOTC is set to argue the case of ordinary commuters Tuesday morning.
The agency has defended its position to move the terminal to Trinoma, saying apart from savings of around P800 million to P1 billion, it will benefit more riders since the Quezon City government is developing the North Triangle area as a new central business district.
“A crucial feature in transportation development is intermodality. Commuters should not have to walk long distances to transfer from one mode of transport to another. Our policy is to promote traveling convenience and efficiency for commuters, which is why we have chosen the end of the MRT-3 line as Common Station’s location,” said Sagcal.
SM, meanwhile, disputed DOTC’s claims that the NEDA approval has expired, saying no expiry date was specified in the agreement.
“There was no expiry date provision in the 2009 NEDA-ICC documents on the SM North Edsa common station site, the copy of which is with us,” SM said in a statement.
The Sy-led firm also said if the agreement did expire, it was because of delays caused by the DOTC and the Light Rail Transit Authority, which SM had no control over.
“Assuming there was an expiration, SM was never made aware of, nor a party to it. Further, it could only be the DOTC/LRTA's delay which caused the same. They cannot use their failure to timely implement the project to justify a sudden change in the location of the station. They cannot use what was caused by their own fault to throw our contract away,” the firm said.