Mindanao, Clark train projects up for Duterte’s OK, says Neda chief
The initial phase of the railway aimed at connecting key cities in Mindanao island will be up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s go-ahead later this month after the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) approved the project on Thursday.
After the joint meeting of the ICC-CabCom and technical board, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer that they approved the Mindanao Railway Project’s over 100-kilometer Tagum-Davao-Digos segment.
But Pernia, who is also Neda chief, said the project cost, among other details and figures, will still be subject to confirmation and reconciliation with the Department of Transportation, the project’s proponent.
Pernia said the Mindanao Railway Project will be part of the agenda at the Neda Board meeting, tentatively scheduled on June 26. The President chairs the Neda Board.
Neda Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan last month said the government plans to finance the Mindanao Railway through the national budget in order to fast-track rollout. “We are not committing this to any ODA [official development assistance],” he had said.
Tungpalan had said the “circumferential” phase of the railway will be prioritized due to “high traffic” in the island’s major cities, although there was also a plan to have it branch out to the Zamboanga peninsula.
Neda earlier said the proposed 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway will connect the island’s growth centers through the construction of modern railroad tracks, operation of state-of-the-art rolling stocks, and the construction of terminals in strategic areas where trading posts will likewise be established.
The railway system will traverse a series of cities and provinces to form a Mindanao-wide rail network, as well as will link itself to major ports and other gateways in the island, Neda had said.
Besides the Tagum-Davao-Digos section, it will extend to also connect key Mindanao cities such as Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iligan, Surigao and Zamboanga, according to Neda.
Pernia said also approved by the Neda-ICC during its Thursday meeting were the commuter line of the south line of the North-South Railway Project (NSRP) as well as the high-speed rail extending the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) to the soon-to-rise Clark Green City.
Pernia last month placed the project cost of the NSRP commuter line extending to Los Baños, Laguna at $2.7 billion, while the high-speed train system from the NSCR in Malolos, Bulacan to Clark was pegged at $1.9 billion.
Pernia had said these two projects were among the priority infrastructure that the Japanese government already committed to finance.
Also to be financed by the Japanese was the $4.3-billion initial phase of the Mega Metro Manila subway system connecting FTI in Taguig City to the SM North EDSA and Trinoma malls in Quezon City, Pernia had said.
Last April, economic managers unveiled the administration’s “Dutertenomics” thrust of “build, build, build” that they claimed will usher in a “golden age of infrastructure.”
The government plans to roll out P7.125 trillion in public infrastructure projects from 2017 until 2022 while also jacking up to 75 from 55 previously the number of so-called flagship, “game-changing” projects that the administration aims to start and complete before 2022.
A total of P8-9 trillion will be spent by the Duterte administration in the next six years to build vital infrastructure such that the share of infrastructure spending to GDP will rise from 5.3 percent this year to 7.4 percent in 2022.