Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri authored this bill and submitted it during the 19th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines on 14th of July 2022.
AN ACT CREATING THE MINDANAO RAILWAYS AUTHORITY (MRA), PRESCRIBING ITS POWERS, FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 4156 ENTITLED 'AN ACT CREATING THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RAILWAYS, PRESCRIBING ITS POWERS, FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES, AND PROVIDING FOR THE NECESSARY FUNDS FOR ITS OPERATION' AS AMENDED BY R. A. NO. 6366, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Pending in the Committee (8/17/2022)
Mindanao Railways Authority
Government Corporations and Public Enterprises
Ways and Means
7/14/2022 Introduced by Senator JUAN MIGUEL "MIGZ" F. ZUBIRI;
8/17/2022 Read on First Reading and Referred to the Committees on GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISES; PUBLIC SERVICES; WAYS AND MEANS and FINANCE;
The explanatory note for the bill appears below. This is a direct transcription.
This Bill seeks to implement the Mindanao Railways Project through the creation of a national government agency attached to the Office of the President. This agency is to be distinct and separate from the Philippine National Railways whose scope and coverage, as provided in Republic Act No. 4156, is proposed to be amended.
The Philippines, overall, is currently ranked as one of the countries with an Emerging Economy. However, the internal development of the archipelago has yet to be closely and critically assessed. The Philippines still needs to meet the distinct needs of different regions that lag behind the country's overall economic outlook in terms of infrastructural development, integration, and access to fundamental services.
Mindanao is a resource-rich geographical region of around 97,630 square kilometers. However, this is an area that greatly suffers from a lack of focused inputs of public investments. This region that is comprised of mainly rural areas and a few urban and urbanizing areas are physically hard to access from one point to another, which loses the benefits of market and public services integration existing in other geographic regions like Central Luzon and Mega Manila.
The Constitution mandates in Section 21, Art. II Declaration of Principles and State Policies that the State shall promote comprehensive rural development. The Constitution also guarantees the basic human right to travel. In fact. Republic Act No. 4156 had set aside funds for the implementation of the Mindanao Railways Project, highlighting that these mandates are still present in the economic plans of the country.
In 2017, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has initiated a Feasibility Study, crucial for the implementation of this Act. The Terms of Reference of the NEDA for the MRP declares, as follows:
"The proposed railway transport service will play a major role towards improvement of Mindanao's intra island accessibility, linkages and seamless multimodal transport networks. The island is strategically located and has potential as a major transshipment point and center of trade in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region.
Enhanced interconnectivity and linkages through passenger and freight railway transport development will further boost tourism, trade and commerce in the island; bring opportunities for the acceleration of local area development; and expansion of local markets for more efficient movement of goods and people to promote productivity and trade competitiveness."
Not diminishing the importance of the economic and material benefits that the railway system in Mindanao will bring about, the most compelling reason for it is the upliftment of the living conditions of more than 25 million people (2018). A well-planned economic development scheme will realize the peace, stability, and security of the people living in Mindanao. The development of the necessary infrastructures will give the development scheme the impetus needed. This can be realized through the enactment of the Mindanao Railways Project to be established and managed by its own Mindanao Railways Authority.
The Authority to be established shall be covered by measures that strictly ensure transparency and public accountability. This body will be under the lens of the Commission on Audit and undergo the monitoring tools of the NEDA such as Value Engineering and Value Analysis. Likewise, the funding provisions shall be guided by the laws that govern the borrowing power of the President at the same time that it mandates the Department of Budget and Management to ensure that funding requirements overcome the hurdles as generally expected for critical infrastructure programs and projects.
The current status consists of ongoing right-of-way acquisition, finalizing financial cover and selection of qualified bidders for the design and build project of the 102-kilometer railways system. The first segment to be constructed is the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment that will be a single-track with options for future expansion. Ridership is projected to reach 134,060 by end 2022; 237,023 by 2032; and, 375,134 by 2042. The MRP-TDD segment is expected to cost Thirty-Five Billion Nine Hundred Ten Million Pesos (P35.91 Billion), while the MRP is projected to cost Eighty-Two Billion Pesos (P82 Billion). The Mindanao Railways Project will be among many critical infrastructures that will impress upon the broader community that our archipelago is one that is integrated physically, thus Filipinos have a high chance of being a truly united country.
In view of the foregoing, approval of this Bill is earnestly sought.
The text of the bill is available here.