SC allows SOMCO to operate, maintain Skyway

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2015 03:18 PM | Updated as of Mar 17 2015 11:18 PM

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed a San Miguel venture's contract to operate and maintain Stage 1 of the South Metro Manila Skyway.

After seven years, the high court has finally allowed the grant to Skyway O&M Corporation (SOMCO) the operation and maintenance of the Skyway.

The SC said the petition to block SOMCO as the operator of the toll road had no constitutional basis.

SOMCO, which is now majority-controlled by San Miguel, was awarded the operations and maintenance contract for the toll road in 2007.

However, several labor unions of the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) led by then Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel asked the SC to stop the transfer of the rights over the toll road to SOMCO.

The petitioners argued that the deal would be a disadvantage to government as SOMCO only invested P2.5 million for the contract, which would let it earn P400 million in revenues.

The group also questioned the nationality of the company, which had been led by Indonesian company Citra Tollways.

In its 28-page decision, the SC said those allegations were just mere speculations and the petitioner failed to give enough proof to back their claims.

The high court also ruled that it cannot abide by the contention of petitioners that the franchise for toll operations was exclusively vested in PNCC, which effectively breached its franchise when it transferred the toll operations to SOMCO.

It stressed that "there is nothing in P.D. 1113 or P.D. 1894 that states that the franchise granted to PNCC is to the exclusion of all others."

The SC added that with the execution of the ASTOA, "the parties agreed that SOMCO shall replace PSC in undertaking the operations and maintenance of the project roads. Thus, the 'exclusivity clause' was a matter of agreement between the parties, which amended it in a later contract; it was not a matter provided under the law."

The SC also ruled that petitioners did not have legal standing, stressing that "no legislative prerogative, power or privilege has been impaired."

The high court said the only real parties in interest in this case, are the labor unions, PNCC Skyway Corporation Employees Union and PNCC Traffic Management & Security Department Workers Organization for filing the case as people's organizations "invested with a public duty to defend the rule of law." -- With ANC