(UPDATE) The Quezon City government suspended on Tuesday the ongoing construction of an MRT-7 station above the Quezon Memorial Circle after environmentalists and historians said “it would affect the landmark's identity as a national heritage park.”
Mayor Joy Belmonte, in a statement, said she ordered a temporary cease and desist order on the station's construction and will have a dialogue with the Department of Transportation, MRT developer San Miguel Corporation, and contractor EEI Corporation about the matter.
Belmonte said she has grave reservations about the desecration of the 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," the mayor said.
The city mayor added that she wants the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Quezon-Avancena Family, the descendants of the late Manuel L. Quezon, to also have a say on the matter as it will affect the “city’s most famous landmark.”
She has also ordered a review of the project after discovering that it 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,” she said.
Meanwhile, transportation assistant secretary Goddes Libiran has also confirmed with ABS-CBN News that they will be coordinating with the QC government to settle the matter.
“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 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,” Libiran said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
At least 44 percent of the new Metro Rail Transit 7 has been completed and 12 out of 14 stations are expected to be operational by 2022, the transport department said during a media tour for the State of the Nation Address last year.
Once completed, the train line will cut travel time from North Avenue Station in Quezon City to San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan to 34 minutes from 4 hours, the agency said.