June 3, 2014

SM Prime Holdings Inc. is suing the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court, saying the government violated a 2009 agreement to locate a common station for the mass rail system at the SM City North EDSA Mall.

The group of Henry Sy, the richest man in the Philippines, wants the Pasay City court to stop the DOTC and the LRTA from relocating the common station of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) to adjacent Trinoma Mall of competitor Ayala Land Inc.

The proposed P1.4-billion common station will primarily link the mass rail transit system in Metro Manila.

SM Prime also wants a court order that says the government must honor its legal obligations under the September 2009 memorandum of agreement, in which – the company claimed – the LRTA agreed to have the LRT-1, MRT-3 and MRT-7 interconnect within the common station that would be built in front f SM City North EDSA.

In exchange for a P200-million grant, SM Prime claimed it was given the right to call the common station SM City North EDSA.

"Then, suddenly, in complete breach and disregard of the terms of the MOA, and without any official notice to SMPHI despite the latter's repeated formal inquiries, the DOTC unilaterally relocated the Station to Trinoma and made the same a mere component of the recently bidded out LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension Project,” SM Prime said in a statement Tuesday.

Michael Arthur Sagcal, DOTC spokesperson, said in a text message to reporters that government lawyers are now reviewing the agreement, although the DOTC has not yet received a copy of the complaint.

“Our legal department is already reviewing the pertinent provisions of the MOA between LRTA and SM. We have yet to receive a copy of SM’s complaint, but we will be ready to defend our position in court,” the DOTC official said.

He said the National Economic and Development Authority Board, approved the proposed common station next to the MRT-3 EDSA-North Avenue station. “The common station will connect the MRT-3, LRT-1, and the future MRT-7 lines for more convenient transfers for their passengers,” Sagcal noted.

In 2010, SM Prime said piling work was completed front of SM North EDSA as part of preparations for the proposed common station, noting the company was even part of technical planning sessions with LRTA.

The SM Group said it was surprised a DOTC announcement last year over the possibility of relocating the proposed common station to Trinoma.

"SMPHI now seeks to enjoin the DOTC and LRTA from proceeding with the above plans, and instead, honor its legal obligations under the MOA,” the company noted. – VS, GMA News