- DOTr bullish on Mindanao Railway Project amid setbacks
THE MINDANAO Railway Project (MRP) will proceed despite the funding challenges and right-of-way issues by residents possibly displaced by the multi-billion initiative started during the previous administration.
During the Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting on Feb. 6, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista said they are in the process of passing the feasibility study to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) XI for the third segment of the project.
“We need to get approval from NEDA kasi there is a change in cost and possibly change its scope, ‘yung alignment might change dahil nga may mga issue, yung right-of-way. We are also doing it now,” Bautista said.
He said they are now working closely with the Department of Finance (DOF) to source out other possible funding in Asia and ASEAN after the Philippine government dropped initial talks with China for a loan package.
“We are attending to all the requirements of the project and we will make an announcement (for the timeframe) after we have settled all the issues,” Bautista added.
Jeremy Regino, DOTr Railways Sector representative, said, “The loan negotiations with China were terminated as it has been dragging on for years.”
“In a negotiation on a government-to-government basis, we cannot just negotiate with other governments on the basis of diplomatic ties with them. Before we open up negotiation with others, we must have to formally terminate,”
Usec. Garry De Guzman of the Department of Human Settlements added that concerned government agencies, led by the DOTr, “are settling the right-of-way, as a counterpart for the government to seek funding for the project.”
The P81.7 billion MRP Phase 1 covers 100 kilometers and includes eight railway stations linking Tagum City to Digos City.
Based on their report, the project already released payments for landowners affected by the railway system and established the Tagumpay Train Village in Tagum City, involving 248 houses for project-affected families on a 4.26-hectare property.
Meanwhile, a total of P1.6 billion has been downloaded so far dedicated to right-of-way acquisitions.
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