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SM pushes ‘constructive dialogue’ on rail station

/ 05:27 AM September 11, 2014

SM Investments vice chair Teresita Sy-Coson: We’re keen on finding a solution. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Listed conglomerate SM Investments Corp. said it was open to a “constructive dialogue” with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) over the location of a railway common station in Quezon City that has held back the awarding of a major public-private partnership (PPP) deal.

SM Investments vice chair Teresita Sy-Coson said in an interview late Tuesday that while there have been no formal talks with the DOTC over the latter’s proposal for a second common station near SM City North Edsa, they were keen on finding a solution that would comply with a 2009 agreement the government allegedly breached.

The issue stemmed from the DOTC’s decision to move the location of the station from SM City North Edsa to an area near the Trinoma shopping mall of Ayala Land Inc. SM Investments. Through property subsidiary SM Prime Holdings Inc., SM Investments promptly sued the government last June and, in July, obtained a Supreme Court order temporarily halting the transfer of the railway station’s location.

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“We will wait for whatever plans they would have,” Sy-Coson said in an interview at the sidelines of the Asean Business Awards Philippines. “There is always a solution, but it would depend on the details.”

DOTC spokesman Michael Sagcal said the proposal for a second common station was still in the cards while confirming that formal discussions with SM Prime had yet to start.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, who continued to defend the Trinoma location, said in an interview last month that the proposed second common station would be smaller. He added that part of the planned negotiations called for SM Prime to drop its petition at the Supreme Court although it remained hazy which group would shoulder the construction costs.

“We really have to talk first more constructively,” said Sy-Coson, who earlier noted that sudden changes like the transfer of the common station affected their ability to make long-term plans.

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TAGS: Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), rail transport, railway common station, SM Investments Corp., SM Prime Holdings, Teresita Sy-Coson
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