The Supreme Court (SC) in its regular en banc session on Tuesday is set to hear a petition for certiorari seeking to halt implementation of the allegedly onerous P70-billion Cavite Extension Project.
The petition for certiorari was filed by lawyer Salvador B. Belaro Jr.
Belaro has described the Cavite Extension Project as “the most disadvantageous government contract of all time.”
The SC en banc, headed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, will determine whether a temporary restraining order (TRO) has to be issued against the extension project.
The project involves a 32-year concession agreement between the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the private concessionaire Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC).
Under the agreement, the LRMC will undertake extension of rail services to Cavite province, south of Manila, in exchange for its takeover of existing facilities of Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1.
Full control would include the right to daily income of P7 million of LRT 1 for the next 32 years.
The Cavite Extension Project shall cover 11.71 kilometers the construction of which could reach around P70 billion.
Belaro said the LRMC did not pay anything for the extension project while the government, under the concession agreement, stands to derive no income from the project for 32 years, which period is extendable to 50 years.
In his petition for certiorari, he said the project is overpriced by at least 300 percent as compared to the North Extension Project, which covers 5.71 kilometers from Monumento (Caloocan City) to North Edsa (Quezon City) and costs only P6.3 billion.
Belaro also accused DOTC of committing grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction and usurping powers and functions of the LRTA.
According to him, the concession agreement calls for congressional concurrence, the LRTA being a franchise holder of a public utility as required under the Constitution.
“LRTA’s act of empowering DOTC to act in its behalf with respect to the bidding of its rail projects is an invalid sub-delegation of legislative power,” Belaro said, adding that the process violated Republic Act 6957 or the Build-Operate-Transfer Law (BOT) Law.
He noted that the DOTC violated the Constitution for its alleged failure to disclose to the public the bidding and post-bidding periods of the Cavite Extension Project.