Why is LRT common station 6 cities away?
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has awarded the contract for the LRT line from Baclaran to Cavite to the consortium of Ayala Land and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. However, the construction of the common station where LRT1 on Rizal Avenue, MRT3 on Edsa, and the new MRT7 from Bulacan through Commonwealth Avenue to Edsa will meet was not included because of a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court. MRT7 will be built by Ramon Ang’s San Miguel Corp.
The common station was originally located at SM North Edsa. This has been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority and stipulated in the contract with SMC. The amount of P200 million has been paid by SM for the project, and the construction of the pylons to support the elevated tracks has started.
Suddenly, without any warning, the common station was transferred by the DOTC to Trinoma on North and Mindanao Avenues when the LRT line to Cavite was bid out. The significance of the transfer cannot be overemphasized. The SM North Edsa and Trinoma malls are competitors in that area, being only some 1,000 meters away from each other. The mall where the common station will be located would be greatly benefited. Hence, the transfer will greatly benefit Trinoma at the expense of SM. (Trinoma is owned by the Ayalas and SM is owned by the Sys.) And it will greatly inconvenience commuters transferring to and from LRT1 and MRT3 to MRT7 and the planned MRT9, which will run to the Rizal Park in Manila. They would have to walk 1,000 meters to and from either station to transfer trains.
The question is why the DOTC transferred the common station from SM North to Trinoma. The DOTC said it would be cheaper. But how can it be cheaper when two stations would be built so close to each other instead of only one?
The anomaly is why the common station is six cities (Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, and Quezon City) away from Baclaran, the end of the Cavite line that was bid out.
I think the real reason is to favor Ayala. Remember, there were no bidders for the LRT extension to Cavite, and the DOTC was desperately looking for one. Suddenly, there were Ayala and Metro Pacific as the only bidders, and curiously, the common station was transferred from SM to Trinoma. Who owns Trinoma? Ayala, of course. Get the connection? Did Ayala agree to bid for the Cavite line on condition that the common station be transferred to Trinoma? The answer is not hard to fathom.
This reminds me of the consortium that built MRT3 on Edsa. Ayala joined that consortium. Curiously, the elevated train line went underground when it reached the area of the Ayala-owned villages in Makati—perhaps so as not to disturb the residents. When that was done, Ayala got out of the consortium.
Also curiously, the vacant land at the end of the MRT3 line, which was reserved for the train depot and repair yard, became the site of Ayala’s Trinoma. Not only that, Ayala is now developing all the vacant land around Trinoma. The land, a former military camp, is owned by the National Housing Authority (NHA). Question: Was there any competitive bidding for the land before it was awarded to Ayala, as the law requires? If it was an unsolicited proposal, was there any Swiss challenge?
An innocent victim to this apparent land-grabbing is the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation, whose gardens were adjacent to the land granted to Ayala by the NHA. The Seedling Bank has a 50-year lease on seven hectares of the property. It still has 15 years to go. But the Quezon City government under Mayor Herbert Bautista demolished the gardens and the administration building with no court order to back the action. Curiously, the squatter colonies beside it, which have no leases on the land or building permits, were spared.
After the Seedling Bank gardens and buildings were demolished, the City Hall storm troopers pulled out. Obviously, the demolition was done to give the land to Ayala. With the Seedling Bank gardens demolished, the area was abandoned in ruins. Why did the authorities not wait until the lease had expired, instead of violating the law and the rights of the lessees? If Ayala was in a hurry to develop the area, why is the area now abandoned?
The danger does not end there. Ayala and City Hall are coveting the two government hospitals and the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center nearby. Recently, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center was poised to be transferred, but there was a public uproar against it. The Veterans Memorial Medical Center was also proposed to be transferred somewhere else, but the hospital management strongly opposed it. It is now the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center that is in danger.
Curiously, there is a big squatter colony across the street from the Nature Center which is not only an eyesore but also a waste of valuable land. Developing it would be good for the city. Why are City Hall and Ayala afraid to touch it?
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