SC denies injunction plea of MRT3 private operators

The Supreme Court has denied the plea of the operators of Metro Rail Transit 3 to stop the Department of Transportation from effecting the procurement of 48 light-rail vehicles from another supplier for P3.76 billion.

In an 11-page resolution made public recently, the SC Third Division affirmed a ruling of the Court of Appeals on 19 July 2016 that, in turn, upheld a 20 February 2014 order of a lower court denying the original appeal for a preliminary injunction against the DoTr.

The Makati City Regional Trial Court, it may be recalled, denied the motion of the MRT Corporation and the Metro Rail Transit Holdings II against the government agency tasked to oversee the transport sector.

“Specious” was how the SC branded the arguments of the petitioners that they are entitled to the issuance of an injunction because the matter is of extreme urgency and involves a constitutional issue.

Petitioners insisted that the non-issuance of an injunction will cause MRTC, MRTH II, as well as the riding public grave and irreparable injury and that DoTr’s actions were tantamount to a deprivation of property without due process of law.

BLT agreement

Also, the petitioners insisted that it had not waived its right of first refusal under the 1997 Build-Lease-Transfer Agreement with the DoTr when it failed to reply to the latter’s letter dated 19 December 2007 informing them of its intention to procure refurbished LRVs and inquiring whether they would be exercising their right of first refusal to supply the said trains.

However, the SC agreed with the CA and the trial court’s decisions that the latter is prohibited from issuing an injunction as the relief being sought by the petitioners “falls within the proscription mandated by Republic Act No. 8975.”

The said law enjoins all courts, except the SC, from issuing any temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, or preliminary mandatory injunction against the government, or any of its agencies and officials to restrain or compel the bidding or awarding of a contract or project of the national government to avoid the unnecessary increase in construction costs and to allow the public to enjoy soonest the benefits of national government projects.


“Here petitioners have failed to substantiate their bare allegations that they have suffered grave injustice or irreparable injury involving their constitutional rights,” the SC said.

It pointed out that the case does not raise any constitutional issue since the relationship between the DoTr and the petitioners was merely contractual and their dispute entails “adjudication of contractual rights.”

“Neither have petitioners proved that MRTC stands to suffer some grave and irreparable injury. While the Court understands the petitioners’ concerns, there is still no basis for the issuance of a WPI because, as explained by the CA, it can be compensable through awarding damages. As the damages alleged by them can be quantified, it cannot be considered as ‘grave and irreparable injury as understood in law,” the SC explained.

“All told, the CA correctly affirmed the RTC’s denial of the petition. We deem it best to refrain from ruling on the contractual dispute concerning petitioners and the DoTr since the same should be threshed out and litigated in the appropriate proceedings between them,” it added.

The injunction was sought as an interim measure to protect the interests of MRT-3’s operators while arbitration is ongoing between them and the DoTr for the latter’s alleged violation of the 1997 BLT agreement.

The arbitration is set to thresh out the conflict whether MRT’s private owners can still invoke their right of first refusal to prevent the government from entering into a third-party supply contract.

The DoTr’s procurement of LRVs from Chinese firm CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock, Ltd., according to the petitioners, is in contrast with the principle of having a single point of responsibility, which covers the construction, operation and maintenance of MRT.

They also warned that if the new LRVs are allowed to run without the necessary adjustment and upgrade to the system, the riding public would be exposed to high risks of train collisions and loss of lives.

The CA ruled that petitioners’ arguments were merely “self-serving and uncorroborated” by independent witnesses.

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