Railway system to spur Mindanao growth — Celso PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 June 2016 14:45

By DEXTER YAP

Confident in the new administration of President-elect  Rodrigo Duterte, District 1 Congressman Celso Lobregat is one of the members of the Mindanao bloc in Congress pushing the proposed Mindanao Railway System.

Lobregat believes that under the Duterte administration, more focus will be given to the entire Mindanao region in terms of development, taxation and governance.

“I for one is pushing for the realization of the Mindanao Railway System. This is very vital in the economic movement of the entire Mindanao region,” Lobregat said.

He said that this should be pushed to make at least transportation and movement of people and goods from one region to another easier.

“As you can see, in our city alone, if you want to go to Cagayan de Oro you still have to fly to Manila or Cebu just to reach your destination, or else, you ride a bus or use your car for a long range driving.It’s very hard,” Lobregat explained.

The solon said that this proposal is long overdue, lacks substantial support from the national government and was excluded from its development plan that’s why the project remains unfnished.

Recalled that farmers in Mindanao are complaining that their products are suffer from damages due to lack of proper transport and shipping system in the region.

Landlocked agricultural areas with no access to ports or cargo-loading airports will greatly benefit from the project.

Lobregat revealed that the Duterte government has included in its political agenda the establishment of the proposed 200-kilometer railway system which will be among his economic priorities, stressing that the P75-billion project will ensure low-cost food supply not only for Mindanaoans, but for the entire country as well.

“The Philippines is not only Metro Manila, development should not be only for a few, now that we have a Mindanaoan President, this will create more focus and more changes in Mindanao region, because If we want economic growth to be really inclusive, we need to spur development in the countryside, particularly in Mindanao,” Lobregat emphasized.

In the 16th Congress, Lobregat supported House Bill 3055 calling for the creation of Mindanao Railways Corporation (MRC).

Under the proposed bill, the Mindanao Railway Corporation would own and operate railroads, tramways and other kinds of land transportation, vessels and pipelines, for the purpose of transporting for consideration, passengers, mails and property between any point in Mindanao.

Under the bill, the MRC shall also have the powers to own and/or operate powerhouses, hotels, restaurants, terminals, warehouses, timber concessions, coal mines, iron and other mineral properties and manufacture rolling stocks, equipment, tools and other appliances and construct and operate in connection with its railroad lines, toll viaducts, toll tunnels and the like.

The MRC shall have an authorized capital of P1 billion for its initial operation divided into P10,000,000 shares at par value share of P100, which shall be fully subscribed by the government, the bill said.

The MRC shall be exempted from payment of all taxes of every name and nature, municipal, city, provincial or national.

Under the proposed MRC, a continuing annual appropriation of P200 million shall be appropriated from any funds in the National Treasury.

Lobregat said that he is crossing his fingers for now for the realization of this “big dream” for the development of Mindanao region and Zamboanga City in particular. – Dexter Yap