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SM heiress urges gov’t to uphold contract

/ 12:09 AM July 12, 2014

The SM Group insisted that a 2009 agreement it signed with the government over the location of a common railway station in Quezon City should be upheld, explaining that surprise changes to long-term infrastructure plans would make it difficult for the private sector to map out future developments.

SM Investments Corp. vice chair Teresita Sy-Coson said during an Inquirer roundtable interview that the Transportation department’s decision this year to locate the station near the TriNoma shopping center instead of SM City North Edsa spelled uncertainty for developments at their shopping mall—the largest in the Philippines.

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SM Prime, a subsidiary of SM Investments, sued the Transportation department and the Light Rail Transit Authority in June for violating their agreement.

The location of the common station, which would link Metro Rail Transit Line 3 and Light Rail Transit Line 1, is considered important given the crucial foot traffic it can deliver to attached facilities. But according to Sy-Coson, the group is more worried about the implications of the new plan.

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“We don’t know what will be in front [of SM North Edsa] anymore. It’s like you are expecting a building in front of you and all of a sudden, it is taken out,” Sy-Coson said. “A lot of the adjacency has to change. That’s more of our concern than just the common station.”

SM Group earlier paid the government a P200-million grant for the location, although the Transportation department said this only covered naming rights.

Sy-Coson, however, disagreed.

“We don’t care for the naming rights,” she said.

The Department of Transportation and Communications earlier defended its decision to put up the station near TriNoma, owned by SM’s rival Ayala Land Inc., saying the location was more advantageous to commuters and was cheaper to build.

“We tried to avoid [litigation] as much as we can,” she said. “We are just trying to tell them to study again. What we are fighting for is, there is a contract and the contract is based on a study which has been there for a long time.”  Miguel R. Camus

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TAGS: Business, Metrorail Transit, Quezon City, Railway, SM Group, Teresita Sy-Coson
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