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900% HIKE IN LAND VALUE

Right-of-way problems threaten to delay MRT 7 project

Decongesting traffic in northern Manila faces yet another hurdle as completion of the P67-billion Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 7 is being hampered by right-of-way (ROW) issues involving a planned train depot in Bulacan province, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Tuesday.

Goddes Libiran, DOTr communications director, said the deparment had asked the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to file a petition for certiorari over a recent Malolos court ruling raising the zonal valuation of a 33-hectare lot in San Jose del Monte by nearly 900 percent.

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In November, the DOTr filed an expropriations case in the Malolos regional trial court to acquire the land for the 22-kilometer MRT 7 project which would connect Quezon City to Bulacan province.

But on Feb. 15, Libiran said Judge Felizardo Montero issued an order granting writ of possession, provided that the government pay the property owner P1,800 per square meter based on a proposed Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) zonal valuation that was not yet in force.

The current and actual BIR valuation was P200 per sq m, also the basis for the DOTr’s initial deposit of P67 million for the 33-hectare land, Libiran added.

A July 2 letter from San Miguel Corp. (SMC), which is in charge of the project, said the new computation would cause the deposit to balloon to around P598 million, or nearly 56 percent of the DOTr’s total ROW budget for the project.

Libiran said that SMC would not be able to complete MRT 7 if the DOTr could not resolve the ROW dispute.

This could also push back the project’s completion from 2020 to 2021—a significant delay given the magnitude of the Metro traffic problem.

The OSG asked the court for a 60-day extension on Aug. 1.

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TAGS: Department of Transportation, DoTr, Goddes Libiran, Metro Manila traffic, MRT-7, Office of the Solicitor General, OSG, right of way issues
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