‘P2.8B gov’t share in common rail station project bad news’
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was not pleased with the news that government would be shelling out P2.8 billion as its share in the construction of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) common station.
“Hindi magandang balita yan, dahil masyadong malaki yung cost (That’s not good news, because the cost is too much),” Alvarez said in a DZMM radio interview on Thursday.
A former transportation secretary himself, Alvarez was reacting to reports about the P2.8 billion the Department of Transportation (DOTr) would shell out to build the portion that will house the platform and concourse of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 and MRT 3.
Alvarez said the question remains if the memorandum of agreement among stakeholders that was signed Wednesday would actually consider public convenience, and not corporate interests.
“Ngayon ang tanong, yung proposal ba doon sa common stations ay yun ba ang para sa convenience ng passengers?” Alvarez said.
(The question now is, is the proposal for the common station actually for the passengers’ convenience?)
Alvarez said the construction of the common station was stalled for eight years precisely because of competing corporate interests.
“Kawawa naman yung taong bayan, hindi natin nabibigay yung serbisyo ng gobyerno dahil nga sa mga interest nila. Ngayon ang sa akin lang sana itong DOTr ngayon ay tingnan lang yung interest ng taong bayan, huwag nang tingnan yung interest ng mga malalaking negosyante,” Alvarez said.
(The people are the ones suffering, we could not give the basic government services because of corporate interests. I hope the DOTr will now look at the interests of the public, not the interests of big businesses.)
Alvarez said the House transportation committee chairperson, Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, approached him and said a hearing would be conducted about the memorandum of agreement.
“Nagulat po yung chairman, pumunta kaagad sa opisina. Sabi ko, ano ang nangyari? Sabi niya, hindi ko alam, Speaker. Magpapatawag na lang daw ng hearing diyan,” Alvarez said.
(The chairman was surprised, he immediately went to my office. I said, what’s happening? He said he does not know, and he will call a hearing on it.)
“Tayo ay talagang magbabantay diyan kung talagang ipatupad na yung proyekto na iyan ay talagang maayos,” he added.
(We will really monitor this if they will really implement the project properly.)
Alvarez said the “win-win” solution for the common station to be built between SM North and Trinoma to end the years-long legal tussle only resulted in government shelling out more money coming from taxpayers’ pockets.
“Dahil nga ginawan nila ng paraan yung isa para nga daw win-win solution doon sa mga commercial interest. Kaya natural, mag-aadjust ka rin doon sa ibang nakaplano nang proyekto at mapapamahal talaga yung gobyerno diyan. Kaya definitely, talagang bubusisiin nating mabuti iyan at hindi natin papayagan iyan,” Alvarez said.
(They found a way to arrive at the win-win solution because of the commercial interests. So naturally, government will adjust to the other plans even though it will be too costly for government. So definitely, we will scrutinize this well and we will not allow this to happen.)
For his part, Sarmiento said the committee will conduct a hearing on the common station.
“Rest assured, we will hear the matter in due time and after we get the necessary documents from the DOTr,” Sarmiento said in a text message.
The legal fight is nearing its end after the DOTr on Wednesday sealed the memorandum of agreement with stakeholders that detailed each role the stakeholders would play in constructing the common station.
Construction is set to start end-2017 and completion is pegged at April 2019.
The stakeholders are SM Prime Holdings, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and Light Rail Manila Corp., the LRT 1 operator owned by Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
The government in 2014 had wanted the common station to be built near Trinoma because it would be cheaper at P1.4 billion.
This prompted the SM Prime Holdings to seek an injunction from the Supreme Court to oppose the transfer for violating a 2009 memorandum of agreement with LRT-A that the common station should be constructed in front of the SM North Edsa.
After much legal scuffling, the stakeholders finally agreed to make the common station in between SM North Edsa and Trinoma.
The MRT common station will connect three urban transit lines: the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT 1), the Metro Rail Transit III (MRT-3), and the MRT-7, which recently broke ground and would run from the Common Station to Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue. CDG/rga
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