MRT-7 depot works start as courts grant DOTr, SMRT7 writs of possession

After 17 years since the submission of the unsolicited proposal for the project and after nearly two years of court hearings and appeals to obtain a site, the MRT-7’s 20-hectare depot is finally starting to take shape.

Works on the depot formally started yesterday, 26 November 2019.

This after Writs of Possession issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 92 and 98 in favor of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its concessionaire, SMC Mass Rail Transit 7, Inc. (SMRT7), were successfully enforced by sheriffs of the two courts.

Joining Branch 92 Sheriff Francisco Emmanuel T. San Andres and Branch 98 Sheriff Bienvenido S. Reyes, Jr. in enforcing the Writs were a contingent of PNP and SWAT personnel led by Station 5 (Fairview) Commander Col. Jeffrey Bilaro, as well as DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan and Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation and Right-of-Way Acquisition Committee Chairman Giovanni Lopez.

The DOTr and SMRT7 identified the new depot site along Quirino Highway in Barangay Lagro, Quezon City, which was found optimal for right-of-way implementability, asset constructibility, capital expenditure and operational expense efficiency, and operational reliability and maintainability.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade approved the depot site during his inspection on 29 June 2019.

“The start of depot works signifies much more than a dot in the timeline of the project. It shows us that when the judiciary work hand in hand with the executive department, we are able to pick up speed in delivering infrastructure development to the Filipino people,” Secretary Tugade expressed.

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 10752 or the new Right-of-Way Act, the DOTr offered to buy the depot site from its owners (largely comprising of a major real estate development company), at current market value, as appraised by a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) accredited independent property appraiser.

However, the property owners refused the DOTr’s current market value offer, forcing the DOTr and SMRT7, in coordination with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), to file expropriation cases last November 15.

On November 22 and November 25, Writs of Possession in favor of the DOTr and SMRT7 were issued by the QC RTC Branches 92 and 98.

A writ of possession is a writ of execution employed to enforce a judgment to recover the possession of land. It commands the sheriff to enter the land and give its possession to the party entitled under the judgment.

MRT-7 is a 23-km. railway with 13 stations that will connect San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan with North Avenue in Quezon City in about 34 minutes.

Once operational, the line is expected to ferry between 300,000 to 850,000 passengers per day, with room for capacity expansion to accommodate future increases in ridership. It will be connected to LRT-1, MRT-3, and the Metro Manila Subway at the Common Station in North Avenue.

As of October 2019, the MRT-7 project is 49.15% complete. It is scheduled to begin partial operations in 2021. DOTR