DOTr cites court rulings to speed up MRT-7

Published November 29, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Emmie V. Abadilla

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) lauded the courts’ upholding the state’s right to expropriate property for the 20-hectare proposed depot site of the ₱63-billion Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) in Lagro, Quezon City.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) logo (Courtesy of dotc.gov.ph)

To date, MRT7 is halfway complete, 17 years after project proponents submitted their unsolicited proposal to the government. For the last couple of years, the railway project has been mired in Right of Way (ROW) issues.

Now, the DOTr and project concessionaire, SMC Mass Rail Transit 7, Inc. (SMRT7), has formally began construction work for the MRT-7 depot in Quezon City after two Regional Trial Courts ruled in their favor.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade the other day thanked the judiciary for recognizing the importance of the MRT-7 project, emphasizing it is “vital to uphold the right of the government to expropriate in accelerating the completion of much-needed transportation infrastructure projects.”

“The actions of the lower courts are indeed a welcome development and an important milestone in the pursuit of the objective of the Duterte administration to give the Filipinos the comfortable life they deserve,” he underscored after the two Quezon City Regional Trial Courts granted writs of possession in favor of DOTr and SMRT7 for expropriating the MRT-7 depot site along the Quirino Highway in Barangay Lagro, Quezon City.

Last June 29, he approved the new Lagro depot site to replace the original 33-hectare depot site in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan after the property owner questioned its expropriation at the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 11. The latter ruled for a higher valuation, jacking up the private proponent’s required deposit for MRT7 900 percent, from ₱67.105 million to ₱598.905 million.

The DOTr elevated the case to the Court of Appeals but it was “taking forever to resolve the issue.”

Next, the DOTr offered to buy the replacement depot site in Lagro, owned by “a major real estate development company” at current market value, as appraised by a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas-accredited independent property appraiser” because it was “optimal for right-of-way implementability, asset constructibility, capital expenditure and operational expense efficiency, and operational reliability and maintainability.”

The property owners refused to sell. Hence, the DOTr and SMRT7 filed expropriation cases through the Office of the Solicitor General last Nov. 15.

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 92 issued the writ of expropriation on November 22 and RTC Branch 98, three days after. The sheriffs of the two courts enforced the writs and work on the Lagro depot “formally started” November 26, 2019.

The depot, where trains are parked or repaired, is an integral part of any railway and the project can now proceed without major stumbling blocks, according to the DOTr.

The MRT-7 project will run 23 kilometers, from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan, with a travel time of 34 minutes from one end to the other, servicing 300,000 to 850,000 passengers daily.

 
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