PBBM commitment to solve transport woes hailed

September 1, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 133 views

THE massive increase in the proposed government spending to modernize and expand the country’s railway system has underscored the Marcos administration’s commitment to solving the country’s transportation woes, House Majority Leader and Zamboanga City Representative Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe said Thursday.

In welcoming this increase, Dalipe said this thrust of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (PBBM) shows his vision to develop a fast, efficient, and easily accessible mass transportation system and decongest the horrendous traffic gridlock in metropolitan areas like Metro Manila and its nearby provinces.

Dalipe said that the appointment of Transportation Sec. Jaime Bautista and Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez are also “solid” indications that President Marcos Jr. is very serious in his promise to develop a “world-class” national railway system.

“We are happy that the new administration’s thrust in solving our transportation problem is to expand and modernize our railways. This should have been the priority a long time ago, and we would never have to endure the monstrous traffic in Metro Manila. The railway is still the easiest and fastest way to transport people, not cars,” Dalipe said.

“We will not just solve our traffic problem, but we can also decongest Metro Manila’s population. If we have a modern rail system. Filipinos would definitely choose to live outside of Metro Manila,” stressed Dalipe.

Dalipe said that both Bautista and Chavez are experts in the railway and transportation sector and have a very deep background in the various railway projects that are part of the government’s long-term development agenda.

Dalipe noted that the Philippines was among the first countries in Southeast Asia to have a light rail system, but its expansion was derailed by mismanagement and lack of prioritization.

He added the Philippine National Railways (PNR), which used to cut all the way from La Union in the Ilocos region up to Legaspi City in the Bicolandia, also “deteriorated” due to funding cuts and allegations of corruption.

From P23.12 billion in 2022, the proposed budget swelled to P113.99 billion for next year, which is almost five times the previous budget.

Dalipe said the increase is expected to bankroll various big-ticket railway projects. With only 76.9 kilometers of operational railways, the government plans to build an additional 1,200 kilometers of railways to provide transportation for 4.5 million passengers daily.

“Our long-term goal should be to continuously increase the coverage of our light rail system in Metro Manila and its nearby provinces and extend our rail connection to Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” he added.