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SC stops DOTC, LRTA from building MRT-LRT common station in front of Trinoma

The Supreme Court stopped the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) from relocating the common station for the mass rail system at the SM City North EDSA Mall to Trinoma Mall, SM Prime Holdings Inc. said Friday.
The SC First Division came out with a temporary restraining order on July 30, an e-mailed copy of the notice signed by Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta showed.
The order was effective immediately and indefinitely until further orders from the high tribunal, it added. 
The high court required DOTC and LRTA to comment within 10 days after the government agencies have received the order on why a 2009 memorandum of agreement (MOA) with SM Prime was breached. The court also asked SM Prime for supporting documents of the MOA within five days.
In an-emailed statement, SM Prime said the SC order reinforces its position in the case pending before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, where it asked the lower court to enforce the developer's rights under the valid and legally binding agreement.
Last June, SM Prime sued DOTC and LRTA for violating a 2009 agreement to build the common station of Metro Rail Transit Lines 3 and 7 (MRT-3, -7) and Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) in front of SM North EDSA. But the lower court junked the plea of SM Prime
"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 to construct the Common Station component... in faithful compliance with the MOA," the statement read.
The government bundled the LRT-MRT common station in the P65-billion LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension Project – the biggest public-private partnership initiative of the Aquino administration.
According to DOTC, the  common station was relocated after a study showed government can save P800 million to P1 billion if the station is built close to Trinoma, an adjacent mall owned by competitor Ayala Land Inc.
Moreover, the department earlier said the agreement with SM Prime expired in 2011 but the Sy-led developer claimed there was no expiry date provided in the documents.

Respect, honor and abide
"SM Prime 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," lawyer Ryan San Juan, SM Prime legal counsel, said.
The P1.4-billion project will link LRT-1, MRT-3, and the proposed MRT-7 – from the North Avenue station to San Jose Bulacan, via Commonwealth Avenue – under the single station.
DOTC, however, is awarding the project to the winning bidder next week as the department has yet to receive the order from the high court, spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal told GMA News Online in a text message.
"We will continue working on the award unless and until we receive any TRO or injunctive writ from the SC," he said.
"As we have said before, the DOTC will respect court issuances, but as long as we have not been legally prohibited from doing our work, we will continue pushing for our infrastructure projects, since this is our commitment to the public," Sagcal added.
"If indeed a TRO has been issued, we will await receipt and review it accordingly to decide on our next steps," Sagcal later said in a separate text message.
The Light Rail Manila Consortium won the project with a P9.35-billion bid to build the LRT extension project.
The consortium is made up of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation with a 55 percent stake, Ayala Corporation with 35 percent, and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings with 10 percent. – With a report by Mark Merueñas/VS, GMA News