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SC junks petition vs foreign firm operating Skyway

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 05:28 AM March 18, 2015
South Luzon Expressway Skyway

The South Luzon Expressway Skyway. AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Saying the petition raised “no issue constitutional import,” the Supreme Court has junked a former lawmakers’ bid to stop a foreign firm from taking over operations of the South Metro Manila Skyway, a main thoroughfare that provides a faster route to the southern fringes of the metropolis.

In a 28-page ruling, the high court’s First Division threw out the petition filed in 2008 by then Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Skyway workers, questioning the qualification of the Skyway O & M Corp. (Somco), a firm chosen by Indonesian Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. for the job.

Somco, a private firm, had taken over Skyway’s operations from the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) Skyway Corp. in the same year.

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The petitioners said the firm, which was “less than one month old” at the time the suit was filed in February 2008, had “no proven track record in toll operations” and “would result in the poor delivery of toll services and higher toll fees to recoup possible losses as a result of inexperience.”

But the court ruled that the “petitioners failed to prove their allegations that Somco is not qualified to operate a toll facility for failure to meet the nationality requirement under the Constitution,” the high court said in a statement yesterday.

“…[T]he allegations of petitioners were nothing more than speculations, apprehensions and suppositions,” the court said in its Feb. 23 ruling penned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The high court likewise said “it cannot abide by the contention of petitioners that the franchise for toll operations was exclusively vested in PNCC, which effectively breached its franchise when it transferred the toll operations to Somco.”

It said the PNCC was still the franchise holder “for the construction, operation and maintenance of road projects.”

“It only opted to partner with investors in the exercise of its franchise… PNCC cannot be said to have breached its franchise when it transferred the toll operations to Somco,” said the high court.

The court likewise said the petitioners had no legal standing to file the suit, saying in particular reference to then lawmaker Baraquel that “no legislative prerogative, power or privilege has been impaired.”

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TAGS: Business, roads, Skyway, Somco, supreme court
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