THE Regional Development Council–National Capital Region (RDC-NCR) composed of the 17 mayors in Metro Manila has deferred the approval of the proposed Metro Rail Transit 7 (MRT 7) during an organizational meeting at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) office in Makati City.

“We decided to refer the MRT 7 project to the committees on infrastructure development and social development for a more thorough discussion,” MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said.

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As MMDA chairman, Tolentino served as chairman and presiding officer of the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the policy-making body of the MMDA.

Earlier, Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City and Herbert Bautista of Quezon City raised major concerns regarding the project and asked its proponents to allow the local government units to have a say regarding the locations of terminals or stations within their territorial jurisdictions.

The US$1.2 billion MRT 7 proposal is a combined 45-kilometer road and rail transportation project from Bocaue exit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Bulacan to MRT 3 at North Avenue-Edsa.

The 22-km, six-lane asphalt road will connect the NLEX to the major transportation hub development in Tala, San Jose del Monte.

The 23-km mostly elevated MRT starts from Tala and ends at the integrated MRT 3/MRT 7 station at Edsa, with 14 stations through Quezon City Memorial Circle continuing along Commonwealth Avenue and Quirino Highway.

“I am optimistic that this project will be approved in due time, after the respective committees have gone over its merits,” Tolentino added.

The MMDA chief stressed on his welcome address the importance of public-private partnership in attaining progress for the nation.

“The government cannot solve all the problems alone, especially with the huge budget deficit we are facing. The local government units and the line agencies should transcend the limits of territorial boundaries and be innovative enough to help one another,” Tolentino said.

Aside from the Metro mayors who served as voting members, the RDC-NCR is also composed of the secretaries and heads of national government line agencies in Metro Manila region and sectoral committees, among others.

Among the attendees to the first organizational meeting under Tolentino’s administration were Malabon City Mayor Canuto Oreta, Mandaluyong City Mayor Benjamin Abalos Jr., Taguig City Mayor Laarni Cayetano, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian, and Mayor Jaime Medina of Pateros.

The rest of the Metro mayors such as Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. sent their representatives to the meeting. (AH/Sunnex)