Yamsuan asks House colleagues to back Bicol Express revival
MANILA, Philippines — Bicol Saro party-list Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan urges fellow lawmakers to support him in his advocacy to revive the so-called Bicol Express of the Philippine National Railways (PNR), saying that the train system might be the gateway between Luzon, and Visayas and Mindanao.
In a privilege speech on Tuesday, Yamsuan reiterated his belief that the Bicol Express — formally known as the PNR South Long Haul Project — would lead not only to a boom in businesses but also provide a link between Filipinos in different regions.
“I trust that we will be united behind this cause, as we build a future where our railways bind our nation’s provinces to the heart of Metro Manila, propelling us toward greater inclusivity and prosperity,” Yamsuan said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“What we need is an express solution and express action. It’s about time that we bring Bicol back on the map through the rebirth of the Bicol Express.”
Yamsuan has been vocal about the revival of the Bicol Express as he believes it would be of great help not only to the Bicol Region but to towns where stations would be constructed.
Last Oct. 31, Yamsuan said he believed the Bicol Express revival was a near reality as residents who would be affected by construction had been given proper relocation — signaling the serious intent of the government.
Then last Sept. 13, in the thick of the House deliberations on the proposed 2024 budget, Yamsuan asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to pursue a public-private partnership (PPP) mode to fund the project.
This developed after DOTr officials admitted looking for other ways as it appears negotiations with the China Export-Import Bank — which was supposed to provide a P142 billion loan — have fallen apart.
“Complemented by an international airport, I am certain that the Bicol Express will help transform the region into Luzon’s gateway to the Visayas and Mindanao,” Yamsuan said.
He lamented that despite the cultural and historical significance of the Bicol Express — which served as a way for families and communities in Southern Luzon to reconnect — public works had been neglected over the years.
Yamsuan said it was time for the government to assist Bicolanos even as they had been resilient to many challenges.
“Oragon is the usual term to refer to Bicolanos. They have rightfully earned this appellation owing to their fighting spirit, their resilience, and their determination to succeed,” Yamsuan said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“But being an Oragon is not enough to empower them. The government should provide opportunities that would elevate the quality of life of every Bicolano. Rehabilitating and reopening the Bicol Express is the single, most impactful project that I believe would achieve this goal.”