San Miguel says up to DOTr, Quezon City gov't to settle issues on MRT-7 station

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San Miguel Corporation says the MRT-7 is halfway done. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 19) — San Miguel Corporation (SMC) said it will cooperate with authorities after the Quezon City government stopped the construction of a new train station at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

In a statement Wednesday, the conglomerate said issues on the Metro Rail Transit 7 (MRT-7) station to be built at the center of Elliptical Road in the city were something for the local government and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to resolve.

Mayor Joy Belmonte on Monday suspended the construction of the Quezon Memorial station through a temporary cease and desist order covering SMC, contractor EEI Corporation, and the DOTr. She cited environmentalists and historians in saying that the station would "affect the landmark's identity as a national heritage park."

Belmonte also ordered a review of the project upon learning that the contractor exceeded the 4,997 square-meter floor area by five times the approved space.

“The reason why the local government issued the order is because the design that is currently being implemented by the contractor which is EEI is very different or dramatically inconsistent with the design that was approved by city government in 2016,” she said Wednesday.

Belmonte added that the “cease and desist order specific to the station which is to be located above the park or on the park itself.” The construction of the train and railways beneath QMC will “proceed as planned” as it is not the subject of the cease and desist order.

"The resolution of issues is really up to DOTr as main proponent, and the LGU. For us, while the order is a setback, we will do everything we can to make sure we keep to the timetable, and at the same time take into account the mayor’s concerns. This includes revisions to the design," SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang said.

DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said separately that the halt order only covered the above-ground structure, which would allow SMC to continue underground construction activities. "We will coordinate with the LGU of Quezon City as soon as possible to discuss and clarify this matter. We are certain that at the end of the day, we will be able to strike a balance and obtain a win-win solution," she said.

Once completed, the MRT-7 would link North Avenue to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue, which would be composed of 14 stations. Authorities expect the ₱70.8-billion train line to serve 850,000 passengers, while cutting the travel time to just 35 minutes end-to-end.

RELATED: Right-of-way issues delay partial operations of MRT-7

For its part, the listed firm said the MRT-7 project eyed operational by 2021 is already 50 percent complete. Ang noted that most of the work at the Quezon City Circle has been done underground.

It was the previous city administration which approved the design of the station, SMC added.

San Miguel took over the MRT-7 project in 2016, eight years later than the original agreement with the government. The 23-kilometer train line is among the priority infrastructure projects under the "Build, Build, Build" program.