DPWH questions TRB power over connector road project
Singson appealing justice department’s rulingBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Although President Aquino has backed two rival proposals for the South to Northern Luzon connector road project, the Department of Public Works and Highways has questioned the authority of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) to process the implementation of the road alignment to be undertaken by the San Miguel-Citra group.
In a letter to the Office of the President dated July 6, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson appealed a recent order issued by the Department of Justice (DoJ) that had given TRB authority over the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways and its extensions, stretches and linkages.
Likewise appealed was the go-signal given by the DoJ for the TRB to facilitate execution of Stages 3 and 4 of the Metro Manila Skyway and Metro Manila Expressway, based on documents obtained by Inquirer.
Stage 3 (Buendia to Balintawak) and Stage 4 (Bicutan to Batasan) refer to the SMC-Citra connector road alignment while Metro Manila Expressway refers to the Bicutan-Rizal-Batasan (C6) road project.
In his letter, Singson appealed the DoJ order dated June 6, invoking the President’s power to transfer any function under the Office of the President to any other department or agency.
The DPWH chief also sought authority to “grant administrative franchises for the construction, operation and maintenance of toll facilities for highways, roads, bridges and public thoroughfares as well as to determine and decide the kind, type and nature” of these infrastructure projects, “including the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), and to determine the alignment thereof.”
Finally, Singson appealed before Malacañang “the exclusivity of the franchise of the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) for the construction, maintenance and operation of the NLEx, SLEx and the Metro Manila Expressway, and any and all such extensions, linkages or stretches, together with the toll facilities appurtenant therein.”
The PNCC and Citra are the original partners in the Skyway project as well as the connector roads and C6 projects before San Miguel Corp. came into the picture.
The TRB, an attached agency under the Department of Transportation and Communications, pointed out to the DoJ that the DPWH’s petitions against the project were “intended to delay the proceedings and impede the implementation of much-needed infrastructure projects that would benefit the Filipino people.”
The TRB views the San Miguel-Citra segment of the twin project as part of the original approval granted by the government to the Indonesian proponent of the Skyway in the mid-1990s.
However, the proposal of the Pangilinan group was determined to be a separate project and, as such, would have to be subjected to a Swiss challenge bidding procedure.
The TRB has also pointed out to the DoJ that the business joint venture agreement between the PNCC and Citra was “binding” on the Republic.
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