DOTC postpones award of LRT-1 extension
MANILA (2ND UPDATE) - The Supreme Court on Friday stopped the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) from moving the common train station to the Ayala-owned Trinoma mall in Quezon City.
The high court's injunction follows a petition by mall giant SM Prime, which operates SM North EDSA mall, the original site of the common station.
"SM Prime is not seeking to delay the LRT1-Cavite Extension project. Rather, we are merely asking that the DOTC/LRTA and/or the winning bidder construct the Common Station component thereof in front of SM City North EDSA, in faithful compliance with the MOA," SM Prime said in a statement.
The company added it 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 SC's decision now puts in question the awarding of the P65-billion Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) Cavite extension project set for today, Friday. The LRT-1 extension project, won by the consortium of the Ayala group and Metro Pacific, includes having the common train station near the Trinoma mall.
Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya said, it will not proceed with the scheduled award of the LRT-1 extension project today, as it is still lacking a couple of signatures as well as questions raised by some stakeholders.
"We are still awaiting a couple of signatures from the Board because of some issues raised to us by some stakeholders. We have referred the item to Solicitor General. Once we get the couple of signatures and the OSG letter opinion then we are ready to award. Yung kaso ng common station, parang its legal service, let's get legal opinion from OSG, to be part of the attachment to our decision," Secretary Abaya said.
It also came amid reports that the DOTC's rail planning chief recommended SM North EDSA mall as site for the common train station.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that no less than the DOTC's transport planning chief was in favor of locating the common station for several light rail trains at SM North EDSA, opposite of the department's official stand.
The planning chief also warned that moving the site to Trinoma from the original location of SM North, will only make the government more vulnerable to additional legal action.
The DOTC earlier argued, however, that having the common train station near Trinoma will mean about a billion pesos in savings for the government.