SC asked to stop P70-B LRT project

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The Supreme Court on Friday was asked to stop the implementation of the P70-billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) Cavite Extension Project.

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In a petition for certiorari, lawyer Salvador Belaro Jr. has accused Secretary Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) of forging “the most disadvantageous government contract of all time.”

The project involves a 32-year concession agreement entered into by the DOTC and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) with private concessionaire Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC).

The contact calls for the LRMC to construct the planned extension of rail services to Cavite in exchange for its authority to take-over the existing LRT 1 facilities. This would include the right to its daily income for the next 32 years, which would reach P7 million per day, according to the petitioner.

The P70-billion extension project covers 11.71 kilometers.

“In effect, there is basis in saying that in the final analysis, the Concessionaire did not pay anything for this project while on the other hand, the government, pursuant to the financial package under the Concession Agreement, stands to derive no income for the entire duration of the concession period of 32 years, extendible to 50 years,” Belaro said.

Belaro alleged that the project is overpriced by at least 300 percent as compared to the North Extension Project, which covers 5.71 kilometers from Monumento to North EDSA and costs only P6.3 billion.

He further accused DOTC of committing grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

Balero also accused the LRMC of usurpation of the powers and functions of the LRTA.

He argued that the concession agreement mandates Congressional concurrence as it involves a franchise 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 power,” Belaro said, adding that the process violated Republic Act 6957 or the Build-Operate-Transfer Law.

In addition, a constitutional violation was committed by DOTC on the people’s right to information due to lack of public disclosure on the bidding and post-bidding period for the project, Balero said.

“In the light of said constitutional provisions, one wonders why no public hearings were held to consult the people regarding the Cavite Extension Project. Also, while bidding was initially conducted, which allegedly resulted to a failure, the circumstances leading to the negotiations with the Concessionaire were not fully disclosed to the public, which is alarming for a contract of such magnitude,” he said.

With this, the petitioner asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the implementation of LRT Cavite Extension Project.

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