MANILA — The House committee on Metro Manila development will inspect this Wednesday (Feb. 1) the proposed site of the railway common station at north Edsa in Quezon City.
This could determine if lawmakers should withhold funding and urge the government to scrap the recently inked deal, the committee chairperson, Quezon City 2nd Dist. Rep. Winston Castelo, said.
Castelo said lawmakers would have to check first the “seamlessness” of the proposed common station linking Metro Rail Transit Line 3, Light Rail Transit Line 1, and the future MRT-7 at the parking lot between SM City North EDSA and TriNoma malls.
He said the convenience of the commuters who would have to walk to change railway lines would be the “overriding factor” in determining the House’s concurrence with the Jan. 18 memorandum of agreement.
“That’s the very purpose of our inspection on Wednesday—to determine whether or not to honor the MoA or to fund whatever financial requirement is there in the MoA or not,” Castelo said in a radio interview on Sunday.
“If Congress will not fund it, there will be no MoA at all to speak of,” he said.
Castelo said Congress would “insist that this benefit the commuters so they would not have to walk” long distances.
He pointed out that the new MoA had not only lengthened the walking distance, it also bloated the station’s cost to P2 billion, from the original P700 million (P200 million of which was supposed to be shouldered by SM Prime Holdings, Inc., in exchange for naming rights).
He stressed the need to scrutinize the deal because almost 800,000 commuters would use the common station daily.
Under a 2009 agreement between the Light Rail Transit Authority and SM Prime, the station was supposed to be located along SM City North EDSA Annex, nearer to LRT-1 than TriNoma.
But, the then-Department of Transportation and Communications in 2013 moved the common station across TriNoma, lengthening the distance commuters needed to walk to change train lines.
This led to a legal fight as SM Prime sued the government for breach of contract, and the Supreme Court’s July 2014 temporary restraining order has since stalled the project.
The government this January finalized a MoA to appease both the SM and Ayala-owned malls by placing the common station between the two. SFM