Solon says President’s push on infra projects to hasten revival of ‘Bicol Express’
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker believes that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s upcoming directive — to speed up the processing of documents needed by infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs) — will bode well for the revival of the South Long Haul Project.
In a statement on Monday, Bicol Saro Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan said that Marcos’ directive will help in the quicker release of permits needed to kickstart the Philippine National Railway (PNR) Manila to Bicol trips, also fondly called “Bicol Express.”
“Among the foreseen issues in the revival of the Bicol Express is the long process of securing permits, clearances, licenses and other documentary requirements to get the project going,” Yamsuan said.
“The soon-to-be issued EO (executive order) by the President will certainly streamline all these once-tedious processes and shorten the timeline for the completion of the Bicol Express,” he added.
Marcos’ plans to craft an executive order that would hasten the processing of required documents was revealed last Thursday by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
According to Balisacan, the EO will require government offices, agencies, and evne local government units to simplify the processes needed for IFPs.
Just this September 13, Yamsuan urged the government to push through with the South Long Haul project through a public-private partnership (PPP), instead of relying on a loan from China.
Yamsuan said this should be the next step for the government since China has not made any solid commitment for the plan.
The Bicol Express, which runs from Metro Manila to Albay, was supposed to be funded through a foreign loan from China Export-Import Bank amounting to P142 billion. But the bank has not approved the loan yet, so no civil works contract has been finalized for the project.
Yamsuan reiterated that the said project would not only be beneficials for commuters traveling from Manila to Bicol Region, but also for businesses that would sprout near the stations.
“The Bicol Express was Southeast Asia’s oldest train service. Its rebirth has long been awaited by Bicolanos, who long for the day when the Bicol Express would again provide them more access to employment and educational opportunities,” he added.