MANILA, Philippines – SM Prime Holdings Inc. is not keen on the proposal made by government to build two common stations for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) in Quezon City as a "win-win" solution to the ongoing legal battle between the two parties.
SM Prime executive vice president Jeffrey Lim said the company maintains its position that government should honor its 2009 agreement with SM involving the construction of the LRT-MRT terminal near SM North EDSA and not near Ayala Land’s Trinoma mall as decided by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
SM was able to obtain a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court preventing the transfer of the station to Trinoma.
“That’s why we said we have an agreement with them and we hope they will honor that agreement that we had in 2009. And I think the TRO issued by the Supreme Court validates that position of SM,” said Lim.
He said the DOTC has yet to formally inform the company about the proposal to build another common station near SM North EDSA.
SM’s legal counsel Ryan San Juan also said that they have yet to receive the proposal from the DOTC.
“We have not received any specific proposal from the DOTC and cannot comment on that matter. We only got to know about the DOTC plan from the media. Our position, as expressed in our statement last week, and in the cases we filed, thus stands,” he said.
As part of its memorandum of agreement with LRTA in 2009, SM Prime paid P200 million to get the naming rights for the proposed common station.
The legal battle ensued when the DOTC announced that it will transfer the common station to Trinoma because it will generate savings of about P1 billion.
To appease SM, Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya on Tuesday said the agency is now considering putting up another station in front of SM North EDSA and a common station in front of the Trinoma as a “win-win” solution to the legal dispute.
In an interview on DZMM on Wednesday, Abaya defended the decision to move the common station to Trinoma, which is owned by Ayala Land. Ayala Corp. is part of the consortium, along with Metro Pacific and Macquarie, that submitted the highest bid for the LRT 1 Cavite Extension project.
"From the inception of MRT-3, 2006, ang disenyo ng MRT 3 ay ilagay ang common station sa Trinoma. Pero from 2009, nailipat ito at nagkaroon ng MOA at nalipat sa SM. Pinagaral po natin at tiningnan ang pros and cons ng dalawang choices. Sa Trinoma, unang una kasi mas mura, ganun din at mas kadikit siya ng proposed QC business district. Nakikita namin, in terms of connectivity, convenience and safety of the riding public, mukhang mas convenient itong Trinoma," he said.
Abaya was referring to the plan to create a Quezon City central business district next to Trinoma. Ayala Land is allocating P65 billion to develop the National Housing Authority (NHA) property into a mixed-use urban complex Vertis North.
Abaya also noted the SM station will serve the LRT-1 as well as MRT-7 while the common station in front of Trinoma will serve LRT-1 and MRT-3.
He said the agency has urged SM to withdraw its case filed before the high tribunal, which may cause delays to the awarding of the LRT-1 Cavite extension project.
"Ang group ng SM, pumunta sa DOTC 2-3 weeks ago... They said they're not in the business of filing cases. Ang pahayag nila they're looking for a win-win solution. Ang sabi ko rin, di puede i-abandon ang Trinoma station, sapagkat bahagi yan ng PPP bid, otherwise uulitin din ang LRT 1 PPP bid," Abaya said.
Abaya also urged the Supreme Court to issue a decision on the case as soon as possible.
"Nasa SC na yan, pakiusap lang namin sa SC ay desisyunan na ng mabilis," he said.