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PBBM wants new funding sources for Mindanao Railway

DAVAO CITY (PIA) -- President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has ordered the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Finance (DoF) to look for new financing sources to implement the 103-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1.

“The same sensitivity to emerging trends and best practices should define our pivot to commuter and commuter-friendly transport systems. That is why I am ordering the Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Finance to work in tandem to explore financing sources for the 103-kilometer Tagum-Davao-Digos Railway,” President Marcos Jr. said in his speech at the 125th anniversary of the DOTr held in Davao City on February 7.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the 125th DoTr founding anniversary in Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City

The President noted that the ambitious Mindanao Railway Project has been stalled due to a lack of funding.

Initially, the project was to be bankrolled by China’s Official Development Assistance but the Philippine government withdrew the ODA application late last year. The first phase of the MRP, which starts in Tagum City in Davao del Norte, passes through Davao City, and ends in Digos City in Davao del Sur, would cost around P83 billion.

“Let us go hunt for the right funding engine that will pull this project to the finish line,” President Marcos said in his speech.

The President reminded the officials to be innovative and creative in exploring financing sources for the railway project.

“I have been briefed that financing railway models can be creatively packaged in a hybrid way with each component of the project undertaken, underwritten by different stakeholders,” the chief executive said.

He cited that while civil works can be tendered to private investors, rolling stocks can be shouldered by official development assistance with the project right-of-way as a deliverable by the government.

Pushing through

During the DOTr Townhall discussion on the railway sector held Tuesday, February 6, also at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista declared that the Mindanao Railway Project will still be pursued.

“We decided to pursue Phase 1 of the MRP despite the withdrawal of prior funding commitments from China,” Bautista said. 

For the government’s deliverable, which is right-of-way, land acquisitions are still ongoing.

The government is building train villages in Davao del Norte, and these resettlement sites will soon be turned over to residents affected by the project.

Tagum City Mayor Rey T. Uy (sixth from right wearing short pants) receives a P903-million check from the Department of Transportation for road right-of-way and site acquisitions of the Mindanao Railway Project in Tagum City.

One of these sites is the Tagumpay Train Village in Tagum City, which will have 248 houses ona 4.2-hectare property.

The DOTr has also committed to looking into right-of-way complaints in the updating of the feasibility study for the MRP.

“If the project right of way will affect the subdivision, first we are already conducting the updated feasibility study, and we will again review the alignment. If it cannot be realigned, we will go to the process of just compensation, so just compensation will include consultation with the stakeholders, as well as third party appraisers, who will take into consideration the market value. There will be no utilization of resources without the just compensation,” said DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Jeremy Regino.

During the  town hall meeting, Housing Department Regional Director Miguel Palma Gil revealed that they have 28 complainants regarding the MRP right of way and there are already housing constructions on subdivision projects where the railway will pass through. (RGA/PIA Davao)

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Rudolph Ian Alama

Regional Editor

Region 11

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