By Jaymee T. Gamil | Philippine Daily Inquirer | February 5, 2014

A Makati City court has issued an order temporarily preventing the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) from buying new trains for the Metro Rail Transit from a China-based company.

Judge Joselito Villarosa of Makati Regional Trial Court– Branch 66  granted the petition by Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) for a 20-day temporary order of protection against a DOTC contract to purchase 48 light rail vehicles from Dalian Locomotives.

The MRTC and Metro Rail Transit Holdings II Inc. filed a petition for a preliminary injunction and a 20-day TPO against the DOTC, alleging that the agency had violated an agreement with them when the agency on Jan. 13 announced the awarding of a contract to Dalian for 48 LRVs.

The MRTC said its predecessor-in-interest, the Metro Rail Transit Corp. Ltd.,  had entered into a Build, Lease and Transfer (BLT) agreement with the DOTC on Nov. 7, 1991, for a light rail transit system on Edsa.

Under Paragraph 5.2 of the agreement, the MRTC would only lose its “preferential right to supply” the LRVs if the MRTC committed a breach of its obligations or if it consented to the DOTC procuring LRVs from other companies, it said.

In a two-page order dated January 30, Villarosa upheld the MRTC’s argument that it had neither “breached (its) obligation under the agreement nor … gave its consent to the DOTC pursuant to Section 5.2 of their agreement.”

“Respondents, its officials, employees, agents or any person acting in their behalf are hereby restrained from performing any and all acts related in any manner to its procurement of additional LRVs for the MRT 3, and from committing any act tending to usurp and violate the rights of the MRTC (under) the BLT Agreement,” Villarosa said.

In a text message, DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said “our legal department is now reviewing (the court order), but we are ready to explain our position on adding MRT coaches for the benefit of the riders.”

Villarosa set the hearing on the petition for preliminary injunction on February 7. With a report from Miguel Camus