Mindanao railway Duterte priority, says Alan Cayetano
DAVAO CITY—The Duterte-Cayetano tandem has revived the proposal for the 200-kilometer Mindanao Railway System, which had been planned to connect Mindanao’s food-producing regions to the country’s markets, such as Manila.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said the railway system, which would provide low-cost transport system for food and agricultural commodities from Mindanao, would keep the country’s food prices low and affordable for people in big cities.
That is why, the railway system is on top of the priority list of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, if he wins as the country’s next President in the coming 2016 election, according to Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate.
“Landlocked agricultural areas like North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Agusan and Lanao del Sur with no access to ports or cargo-loading airports will greatly benefit from the Mindanao Railway System,” Cayetano said during a federalism forum in Kidapawan City.
“The railway system will ensure efficient and low-cost transport of food commodities from agricultural areas like North Cotabato to the ports of Davao, General Santos City or Cagayan de Oro City,” Cayetano told banana farmers, who had earlier complained of the inadequate transport and shipping system in the province, and how a poor transport system damages their products even before they reach their markets.
Cayetano said an efficient and low-cost transport system, such as the Mindanao railway, would benefit farmers in Mindanao and would keep the country’s food prices low.
“It will be a priority project under the Duterte presidency because of its importance in ensuring low-cost food for the nation,” Cayetano said.
He said the proposed Mindanao Railway System had been studied and approved but did not materialize because no funds had been allocated to it by the national government.
“The delay in the implementation of the railway system is another proof of how a highly centralized unitary government neglected the development of the countryside,” he said.
“Compared to the MRT, which costs P50 billion per line with the seventh line now under construction, the Mindanao Railway Project will only cost P75 billion,” Cayetano said.
North Cotabato is the country’s biggest producer of bananas for the local market, although some farmers in the town of M’lang have started exporting organic rice to Europe and other countries.
The province is also one of the biggest producers of raw and semiprocessed rubber products and oil palm despite farmers’ perennial complaints about their lack of access to a wharf or an airport. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
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