SC upholds RTC’s ruling on PH-Korean firm’s ended MRT contract

By Benjamin Pulta

July 20, 2020, 7:44 pm

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the Quezon City Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) decision turning down the plea of Korean-Filipino firm, Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), to stop the government from terminating its PHP3.8-billion, three-year contract for the maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3).

In a 14-page decision released July 6 and penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting, the SC’s Second Division said the QC RTC ruling was proper since Republic Act (RA) 8975 prohibits lower courts from issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunctions against national government projects.

The SC also turned down BURI’s claim that QC RTC may issue a TRO in disputes that are for arbitration under RA 9285 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Citing precedents, the high court said RA 9285 is a general law applicable to all matters and controversies to be resolved through alternative dispute resolution methods and must give way to special laws, like RA 8975, governing national government projects.

“With respect to other matters raised, we note that most of the parties’ factual allegations and counter-allegations already touch upon the merits of the main controversy, i.e. the propriety of respondent’s termination of the MRT3 contract,” the SC said. “We deem it best to refrain from ruling on this issue and the matters surrounding it since they should be threshed out and litigated in the appropriate arbitration proceedings between parties.”

The Department of Transportation terminated its MRT contract with BURI in 2017 due to numerous service interruptions.

BURI originally won the contract in 2015 when the government bidded out contract for the procurement of goods, infrastructure projects, and consulting services of the MRT3 system to be awarded to a single maintenance service provider that would establish a single point responsibility for the maintenance of the MRT3 system, general overhauling of light rail vehicles, and the total replacement of the signaling system with the approved budget of PHP4.2 billion.

BURI was eventually declared as the sole entity which passed the eligibility on technical and financial documents evaluation. (PNA)