February 13, 2017
Grace Poe's Opening Statement
Magandang tanghali sa inyong lahat.
In today's discussion, we will tackle Senate Resolution No. 278 on the need for transparency in the concept, design and construction of the common station project for LRT-1, MRT-3 and the planned MRT-7.
As chair of the Senate committee on public services, which has jurisdiction on matters related to transportation, it is imperative that we conduct this legislative inquiry as we and the public deserve to know: one, the pros and cons of the design; two, the amount of taxpayers' money and private sector participation involved; and three, why the project cost has tripled since it was first introduced.
Let me be clear about this: We are conducting this hearing not to further stall the project, which had been in limbo for nearly eight years. We do not want to contribute to further delays of its construction. After all, this project had its adequate share of problems, going through a protracted process, and we do not want to prolong the suffering of the commuting public, who are always at the receiving end of nightmarish traffic conditions on EDSA, of other major thoroughfares, and of a dysfunctional public transportation system. This is why our committee is also fast-tracking plenary discussions on the proposed emergency powers sought by the Executive to roll out infrastructure projects to address the traffic crisis.
In retrospect, the government, through then DOTC and LRTA signed an agreement with SM Prime Holdings in 2009 for the construction of the common station in front of its North EDSA mall. SM has also secured naming rights to the common station for P200 million. SM later sued the government for an alleged breach of the 2009 contract, and the Supreme Court issued a stay order in 2014 stopping the award of the contract to the winning bidder for the construction of the common station in front of Trinoma owned by Ayala Corp.
Just last January 18--finally ending the long-awaited discussions on this--the Department of Transportation signed with local conglomerates an agreement for the construction of the common station at EDSA and North Avenue in Quezon City that would connect three elevated urban railways: LRT-1 from Caloocan, EDSA MRT-3, and the proposed MRT-7, which will originate from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
Reportedly, the construction of the common train station will commence in the last quarter of this year and is expected to be completed in April 2019. The DOTr reportedly said that the government will spend P2.8 billion in taxpayers' money for this project, which is a lot more than the P778-million proposal when the project was introduced in 2009 in a different location, and from the P1.4-billion proposal in 2014.
This inquiry seeks to know, among others, whether:
1. The design is proportionate to the amount of public money involved;
2. If its size of 13,700 square meters will result in passenger convenience and will be able to accommodate the millions of passengers expected to use the three platforms daily in the future; and ultimately,
3. Whether this particular project would result in higher fares for the three elevated railway systems.
We also seek to address the concerns of senior citizens, pregnant women, and persons with disabilities on the distance to transfer from one platform to another.
Thursday, March 23
Wednesday, March 22