THE QUEZON CITY government has ordered a construction halt for part of the Quezon Memorial Circle station of the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) pending questions about how the monument will be affected.
In a statement Wednesday, the city said Mayor Maria Josefina G. Belmonte suspended the “above-ground structure” of the Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) station of the P62.7-billion MRT-7 project pending clarification about how the works will affect the city’s “most famous landmark.”
The Transportation department said it is ready to resolve the issue with the city.
The city government said that Ms. Belmonte issued a temporary cease-and-desist order against the “above-ground construction” of the MRT-7 QMC station pending talks with developer San Miguel Corp., contractor EEI Corp. and the Department of Transportation (DoTr).
The city said “environmentalists and historians pointed out that the station was encroaching on the integrity” of the site.
Ms. Belmonte said the city “is in full support” of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s infrastructure program but it has “grave reservations about the desecration of the famous heritage site, especially as construction was affecting the surface of the park.”
“We want to look for a win-win solution that would protect our open spaces while advancing the welfare of thousands of commuters who will benefit from the mass transport project,” Ms. Belmonte said.
The city government also said Ms. Belmonte has ordered a review of the MRT-7 project, claiming that it has “greatly exceeded the agreed area for construction.”
“Based on the project’s permit and clearance, the contractor indicated 4,997 square meters as its floor area. However, the proposed floor area is more than five times the approved figure,” the city said.
Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Oliveros-Libiran said: “We understand that the concern is about the above-ground structure, and that the construction of underground areas may proceed. We will coordinate with the LGU (local government unit) of Quezon City as soon as possible to discuss and clarify this matter. We are certain that at the end of the day, we will be able to strike a balance and obtain a win-win solution.”
Ms. Belmonte said she has initiated talks with stakeholders for clarification and guidance.
The mayor also wanted to hear comment from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Quezon-Avanceña Family, the descendants of the late Manuel L. Quezon, because of QMC’s “historical landmark” status.
The Transportation department reported in January that the MRT-7 project — which will run between North Avenue in Quezon City and San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan — was 50.69% complete.
The P62.7-billion MRT-7 project has three components: a 23-kilometer rail transit system with 14 stations; a six-lane highway between North Luzon Expressway and a planned Intermodal Transportation Terminal (ITT); and the ITT itself that can accommodate 200 buses at a time. Travel time from end to end is estimated at 34 minutes. — Arjay L. Balinbin