UNTV Online reported on Aug. 19, 2016 that the legal stalemate between mall giants SM Group and Ayala Group has been resolved. Sec. Arthur Tugade of DOTC helped broker the compromise deal between the two mall owners affected by the planned construction of the common station. However, the deal hasn’t been signed by all parties involved so this isn’t final yet.
After over seven years of legal tug-of-war between the two malls, this is good news nevertheless. LRT and MRT riders may soon be spared from the additional hassle of physically making a PUJ /PUB transfer from one line to the other – a convenience that should have been afforded them way back in 2010 if the DOTC under the Aquino administration hadn’t favored the Ayala Group’s Trinoma Mall over what is logically the most practical location to build it.
The most practical spot happened to fall on SM City North EDSA’s doorstep, which was why the original plan by experts was to build it there and that was why the original contract was awarded to the SM Group in 2009 (see original and revised plans and PDI’s Conrado Banal III’s opinion in my preceding article titled “The Proposed LRT-MRT Grand Central Station: COMMUTERS’ DREAM TURNED INTO A NIGHTMARE”). Sad to say for SM Group, and the LRT & MRT-riding public, the Aquino administration came to power so vested interests got in the way of common sense.
Anyhow, I guess that Sec. Tugade made the most appropriate decision in going for a compromise solution because if the SM Group insisted on what is rightfully the just resolution – it may be another seven years of legal wrangling that won’t only continue to hurt the thousands of commuters but two giants’ own business interests as well.
I hope that DOTC expedites this project and have it completed soonest within 2017. It’ll be one of the Duterte administration’s most enduring legacies that the people will cherish!