SC upholds gov’t bid to tap private firm for Skyway Stage 1 toll operations
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the government’s move in 2007 in tapping a private firm for the operation and maintenance of Stage 1 of the South Metro Manila Skyway.
In a 28-page decision released Tuesday written by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the high court’s First Division dismissed the petition filed by losing senatorial bet Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Bukluran ng Mangagawang Pilipino (BMP), Lahing Pilipino Multi-Purpose Transport Servvice Cooperative, PSC Employees Union (PSCEU) and PNCC Traffic Management and Security Department Workers Organization (PTMSDWO).
Petitioners sought the annulment of the Amendment to the Supplemental Toll Operation Agreement (ASTOA) between the Philippines, the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC), and Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corporation (CITRA) and its approval by the Secretary of Transportation and Communications; the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between PNCC, PNCC Skyway Corporation (PSC) and CITRA; and the Toll Operation Certificate issued by the Toll Regulatory Board in favor of SOMCO for the operations and maintenance responsibilities over the Skyway toll facilities.
They said the ASTOA, MOA and the Toll Operation Certificate are “unconstitutional, contrary to law and grossly disadvantageous to the government.” They said the toll operations was exclusively vested in PNCC.
Under the agreement, PSC received the amount of P320 million which was used for the settlement of it liabilities arising from the consequent retrenchment or separation of its affected employees.
They added that by agreeing to the arrangement whereby SOMCO would replace PSC in the toll operations and management, PNCC seriously breached the terms and condition of its undertaking under the franchise and effectively abdicated its rights and privileges in favor of SOMCO.
But the high court said “petitioners failed to prove their allegations that SOMCO is not qualified to operate the toll facility for failure to meet the nationality requirement under the Constitution.”
Likewise, the Court ruled that it cannot abide by the contention of petitioners that the franchise for toll operations was exclusively vested in PNCC.
“There is nothing in Presidential Decree 1113 or PD 1894 that states that the franchise granted to PNCC is to the exclusion of all others,” the high court added.
P.D. 1113 was issued granting to PNCC the right, privilege, and authority to construct, operate, and maintain toll facilities in the North and South Luzon Toll Expressways for a period of 30 years starting May 1, 1977.
P.D. 1894, on the other hand, amended P.D. 1113 to give PNCC the right to construct and operate Metro Manila Expressways for a period of 30 years from the date of the completion of the project
The Court stressed that PNCC remained the franchise holder for the construction, operation and maintenance of the project roads and that it only opted to partner with investors in the exercise of its franchise leading to the organization of companies such as PSC and SOMCO.
“In this case, we find that the allegations of petitioners are nothing more than speculations, apprehensions, and suppositions,” the Court ruled.
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