The couple Antionio H. Cerilles and Aurora E. Cerilles are long time political figures in Zamboanga politics. Both have alternated between the legislative and executive branches of government, and during the course of their political careers have authored six bills in support of the Mindanao Railway. (See full list of bills here).

Both have been congresspersons of the 2nd District of Zamboanga del Sur, starting with Antonio who was the inaugural representative of the district. He remained so till 1998 when he assumed the role of Secretary of Environment & Natural Resources under the Estrada administration. Aurora succeeded him as congresswoman for the district until 2001, at which point she was elected as governor of the province. Antonio returned to his congressional seat in 2004, and the couple reversed their roles 2010. Aurora sought election as governor of the province again in 2019 but was unsuccessful.

As congressman of the 2nd District of Zamboanga del Sur, Antonio kept the Mindanao Railway in the legislative agenda for the 8th, 9th, 13th and 14th. Aurora, for her part, took up the cause in the 11th and 15th congresses.

The table below shows their legislative record with regard to the Mindanao Railway.

Bill Author Filed Read Title Status
HB03788 Cerilles, Antonio H. 18 Nov 1987 23 Nov 1987 An act creating the Mindanao Railways Authority, prescribing its powers, functions and duties, and providing for the necessary funds for its operations Primary Referral: TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION

Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION since 1987-11-23
HB35377 Cerilles, Antionio H. 29 Jan 1992 29 Jan 1992 An act establishing a railway system in Mindanao Primary Referral: RULES

House Committee Report No.: 01773 Submitting Committees: TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION

Bill Status: Business for Thursday & Friday on 1992-01-29
HB01182 Cerilles, Aurora E 21 Jul 1998 30 Jul 1998 An act creating the Mindanao Railways Authority, prescribing its power, function and duties, and providing for the necessary funds for its operations Primary Referral: GOVERNMENT ENTERPRISES AND PRIVATIZATION

Secondary Referral/s: WAYS AND MEANS, APPROPRIATIONS, TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS

Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on GOVERNMENT ENTERPRISES AND PRIVATIZATION since 1998-07-30
HB03595 Cerilles, Antonio H 13 Jan 2005 18 Jan 2005 An act creating the Mindanao Railways Authority, prescribing its powers, functions, and duties and appropriating funds for its operation Primary Referral: RAILWAYS AND RO-RO SYSTEMS

Secondary Referral/s: GOVERNMENT ENTERPRISES AND PRIVATIZATION, APPROPRIATIONS

Previous Referrals: SECONDARILY REFERRED TO WAYS AND MEANS on 2005-01-18; SECONDARILY REFERRED TO APPROPRIATIONS on 2005-01-18;

Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on RAILWAYS AND RO-RO SYSTEMS since 2005-01-18
HB02656 Cerilles, Antonio H. 24 Sep 2007 01 Oct 2007 An act creating the Mindanao Railways Authority, prescribing its powers, functions, and duties and appropriating funds for its operation Primary Referral: TRANSPORTATION

Secondary Referral/s: MINDANAO AFFAIRS
Previous Referrals: PRIMARILY REFERRED TO GOVERNMENT ENTERPRISES AND PRIVATIZATION on 2007-10-01; SECONDARILY REFERRED TO TRANSPORTATION on 2007-10-01;

COMMITTEE ACTIONS:
Under deliberation by the Mother Committee on 2008-03-12
Bill Status: Under deliberation by the Mother Committee on 2008-03-12
HB01354 Cerilles, Aurora E. 13 Jul 2010 02 Aug 2010 An act creating the Mindanao Railways Authority, prescribing its powers, functions and duties, and appropriating funds for its operations Primary Referral: TRANSPORTATION

Secondary Referral/s: MINDANAO AFFAIRS COMMITTEE ACTIONS:

Approved by the Committee on 2010-11-17

Referred to stakeholders on 2012-02-06
Bill Status: Referred to stakeholders on 2012-02-06
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Senate Bill was filed by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III during the 18th Congress of Republic of the Philippines on the 22nd of July 2019. This post focuses on this bill, and is divided into the following sections: 

 

Status and summary of the bill

Filed on July 22, 2019 by Pimentel, Aquilino "Koko" III

Congressional website entry http://senate.gov.ph/lisdata/3106227961!.pdf
Link to document SBN-687
Scope National
Status Pending in the Committee (8/13/2019)

 

Explanatory note

The senator's exploratory note appears below.

This bill seeks to create the Mindanao Railways Corporation as a means to hasten the development of Mindanao.

The collective experiences of Japan, Canada, the United States of America and most of Europe show how railroad networks have spurred and sped up national development. In these places, railroads opened up vast land areas for human settlement and made it possible to transport massive number of people and huge volume of goods at the lowest cost.

The influx of people into areas previously unsettled, the easy mobility of the populace, and the availability of goods needed for civilized life mean higher productivity of the land and its people.

A railroad network crisscrossing Mindanao will considerably shorten the travel time between Zamboanga and my hometown, Cagayande Oro, or Davao and Cagayan de Oro. That will, in turn, mean a reduction of the transportation cost of goods and travel cost for people whose end destination is the Visayas or Luzon, and vice versa.

Considering all the foregoing, approval of this bill is earnestly sought.

AQUILINO "KOKO" PIMENTEL

 

Text of the Bill

 The text of the bill appears below. 

AN ACT CREATING THE MINDANAO RAILWAYS CORPORATION PRESCRIBING ITS POWERS, FUNCTIONS, AND DUTIES, AND PROVIDING NECESSARY FUNDS FOR ITS OPERATION

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House o f Representatives o f the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Statement of Policy. - The Mindanao Railways Corporation, being a factor for socio-economic development and growth, shall be part of the infrastructure program of the government and as such, shall remain in and under government ownership during its corporate existence. The Mindanao Railways Corporation must be administered with the view of serving the interests of the public by providing them the maximum of service. While aiming at its greatest utility by the public, the viability of its operation must be ensured so that services can be rendered at the minimum passenger and freight prices possible.

SEC. 2. Name, Duration, and Domicile. — A corporation to be known as the Mindanao Railways Corporation (hereinafter, “Corporation”) is hereby created to serve as the instrumentality of the Philippine government in providing a railroad and transportation system for the whole island o f Mindanao. It shall have its main office in Cagayan de Oro and shall have such branches and agencies within the Philippines as may be necessary for the proper conduct of its business. This Corporation shall exist for a term o f fifty (50) years from the date of approval of this Act and shall be an attached agency of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

SEC. 3. General Powers. - The Corporation shall have the following general powers:

a) To exercise the right of eminent domain whenever necessary for the attainment of its objectives;

b) To borrow money and contract loans, credits, or indebtedness from domestic or foreign sources for the furtherance of its goals and objectives;

c) To do all such other things and to transact all such business directly or indirectly necessary, incidental or conducive to the attainment of the purpose of the corporation; and

d) Generally, to exercise all powers of a corporation under Batas Pambansa Big. 68 otherwise known as “The Corporation Code of the Philippines,” as amended.

SEC. 4. Purposes and Specific Powers. - The Corporation shall have the following purposes and specific powers:

a) To own or operate railroad trainways, subways, bus lines, trucklines, or other kinds of land transportation, vessels, and pipelines, for the purpose of transporting, for consideration, passengers, mails, and property between any point in Mindanao; and

b) As an auxiliary to its main purpose, to own and/or operate powerhouses, hotels, restaurants, terminals, warehouses, timber concessions, coal mines, iron and other mineral properties, and to manufacture rolling stocks, equipment, tools, and other appliances; to construct and operate in connection with its railroad lines, toll
viaducts, toll tunnels, and the like.

SEC. 5. Authorized Capital Stock of the Corporation. - The authorized capital stock of the Corporation shall be One hundred billion pesos (PhP 100,000,000,000.00) divided into Five hundred million (500,000,000) common shares all with par value of Two hundred pesos (PhP 200.00), which shall be fully subscribed by the National Government and other government institutions, corporations, instrumentalities, and agencies, whether national or local, within the framework of their respective charters, twenty-five percent (25%) of which or Twenty-five billion pesos (PhP 25,000,000,000.00) shall be initially paid-up and the balance shall be paid from a continuing annual appropriation of not less than Two billion pesos (PhP 2,000,000,000.00).

The said amount shall be programmed and released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in accordance with the schedule of cash requirements to be prepared and submitted by the Corporation;

Provided, That this continuing annual appropriation of Two billion pesos (PhP2,000,000,000.00) and the programming and release thereof shall remain in force until the authorized capital subscribed by the Government shall have been paid in full.

SEC. 6. Loans. - The Corporation is hereby authorized to contract loans, credits and indebtedness in any domestic or convertible foreign currency, from foreign governments, their agencies, instrumentalities or financial institutions, or any non-governmental national or international financial institutions or firms extending suppliers credit deferred payment arrangement or other fund sources, or to issue bonds, on such terms and conditions as it shall deem appropriate for the accomplishment of its purpose and to enter into and execute documents and other documents specifying such terms and conditions.

The President of the Philippines, through the Secretary of Finance, is hereby authorized to guarantee, absolutely and unconditionally, as primary obligor and not merely as surety, in the name and on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, the payment of the loans, credits, indebtedness and bond issued, which shall be over and above the amount which the President of the Philippines is authorized to guarantee under Republic Act No. 4860, as amended by Republic Act No. 6142, as well as the performance of all or any of the obligations undertaken by the Corporation in the territory of the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to loan agreements entered into with foreign governments or any international financial institutions or fund sources.

The loans, credits, and indebtedness contracted under this section and the payment of the principal, interest, and other charges thereon, as well as the importation of machinery, equipment, materials, supplies, and services, by the Corporation, paid from the proceeds of any loan, credit or indebtedness ineurred under this Act, shall also be exempted from all charges and restrictions previously and presently imposed and to be imposed by the Republic o f the Philippines, or any of its agencies and political subdivisions.

SEC. 7. Board o f Directors, Composition, and Appointment. - The corporate powers o f the Corporation shall be vested in and exercised by the Board of Directors, hereinafter referred to as the “Board”, composed of:

a. A Chairman to be appointed by the President;
b. The General Manager of the Corporation who shall be its Vice-Chairman;
c. The Undersecretary o f Planning and Infrastructure Projects of the DOTr;
d. An Undersecretary of the Department of Finance;
e. The Deputy Director-General for Investment Programming of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA);
f. An Undersecretary of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Office of the President; and
g. Three (3) other members to be appointed by the President.

The Chairman and the three appointive members of the Board as stated in Sec. 7 (g) shall serve for a period of six (6) years; Provided, That of the three appointive members, one member shall be appointed for a term of two (2) years, one member for four (4) years, and one member for six (6) years; Provided, further, That their successors shall be appointed for a term o f six (6) years except that any person appointed to fill a vacancy shall only serve for the unexpired term o f the member succeeded.

The officials next in rank to the members o f the Board listed in Sec. 7 (c), (d), (e) and (f), as designated by them, shall serve as alternate members. The alternate members shall attend the meetings of the Board whenever their principals are absent or the said positions are vacant, and shall receive the same benefits and privileges as their principals.

For actual attendance of Regular or Special Board meetings, or Board Committee meetings, the members of the Board shall receive a per diem, to be determined by the Governance Commission for Government Owned or Controlled Corporations (GCG).

All necessary expenses of the members of the Board to attend meetings and to discharge their official duties, within the limits allowable by the GCG, shall be paid directly by the Corporation in the form of cash advance or reimbursement.

SEC. 8. Qualifications of Appointive Members of the Board. - The appointive members of the Board of Directors shall be Filipino citizens, at least thirty-five (35) years of age at the time of their appointments, persons of good moral character and holders of degrees in the field of transport planning, engineering, economics, management, finance, marketing, law, or related courses, with preference for those with masteral degrees in such fields or experience in railway management and operations for at least five (5) years. All such officials must be residents of Mindanao for at least five (5) years prior to their respective appointments.

SEC. 9. Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors. - The Board of Directors shall have the following powers and duties:

a) To prescribe rules and regulations, or policies governing the manner in which the general business of the Corporation may be exercised;

b) To recommend amendments of, or the repeal of by-laws;

c) To fix the compensation o f the General M anager and Assistant General M anagers, subject to the approval of the GCG, and to appoint and fix the compensation of the other officers of the Corporation;

d) To approve, the annual and/or such supplemental budgets of the Corporation;

e) By a two-thirds vote o f all members, to recommend to the President the suspension or removal for cause of the General Manager or Assistant General Manager(s);

f) Upon recommendation o f the General Manager, to approve the appointment o f all officials o f the Corporation from the rank of division head and above;

g) Subject to the provisions of applicable laws and regulations, and upon recommendation o f the General Manager, to reorganize the Corporation, detennine its staffing pattern, or define the functions and duties of organization units and personnel; and

h) To expropriate, with just compensation, the necessary “right of way” needed by the Corporation to acquire, maintain, and/or expand its track lines.

SEC. 10. Suspension and Removal o f Directors. - Any member of the Board may, for cause, be suspended or removed by the President of the Philippines.

SEC. 11. Prohibition fo r Board Members. - No Chairman or member o f the Board of Directors o f the Corporation shall at the same time serve in the Corporation in any capacity whatsoever other than as Chairman or member thereof, unless otherwise authorized by law.

SEC. 12. Managing Head. - The management of the Corporation shall be vested in the General M anager who shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines upon the recommendation o f the Board. He shall possess technical competence in management, preferably in railroad transport management, have demonstrated executive ability, and be of good moral character. He shall hold office for a term o f six (6) years.

In the performance of his functions, he shall be assisted by Assistant General Managers who shall be appointed by him with the approval of the Board and the President.

SEC. 13. Powers and Duties of the General Manager. - The General Manager shall have the following powers and duties:

a) To direct and manage the affairs and business of the Corporation on behalf of the Board, subject to the policies, rules, and regulations established by the Board;

b) To sit in all meetings of the Board as Vice-Chairman, and participate in its deliberations, with the right to vote, and to preside in any meeting for or in the absence o f the Chairman;

c) To recommend to the Board short-and-long range plans and programs consistent with the overall objectives of the Corporation;

d) To submit and recommend consolidated annual budget and propose capital and other supplemental budgets to the Board;

e) To appoint officials and employees below the rank of a division head and to suspend or otherwise discipline for cause, all subordinate officials and employees of the Coqioration; Provided, however, That in the case of removal for cause, approval of the Board shall be necessary;

f) To recommend to the Board such changes in the organizational structure and staffing pattern of the Corporation as may be necessary to carry out its functions effectively;

g) To submit to the Office of the President and to the Congress of the Philippines, through the Board of Directors, within sixty (60) days after the close of each fiscal year, an annual report on the operations of the Corporation or such other reports as may be required; and

h) To perform such other duties as may be assigned to him by the Board of Directors from time to time.

SECTION 14. Appointment and Promotion of Personnel. — In the appointment and promotion of officers and employees of the Corporation, merit and efficiency shall serve as basis, and no political test or qualification shall be prescribed and considered for such appointments or promotions.

SECTION 15. Exemption from Taxes, Duties, Port Charges or Dues, and Customs Bonds. - The Corporation is hereby exempt from payment of all taxes of any kind and nature, including those imposed by municipal, city, provincial, or national governments, upon its capital stock, franchise, right of way, earnings, and all other property owned or operated by it in relation to its principal and auxiliary purposes, and all import duties on all railways materials, rolling stocks, spare parts, supplies and equipment imported in the Philippines for and/or by the said Corporation and this exemption shall extend to wharfage dues, storage charges, arrastre, and shipside charges, and special duties on such importations, and other port charges upon the carrying vessels whose entire cargo consists of materials for the construction of its projects or rehabilitation of its lines, facilities, and to such proportion of the prescribed port charges on other vessels as the tonnage of materials for such construction or equipment may bear to the tonnage of the entire cargo of the vessel; and such exemption shall further extend to the filing of general importer’s and general documentary bonds and warehouse bonds for the operation of its warehouses, whether general bonded warehouses or general order store. These exemptions shall extend to the Value-Added Tax (VAT), Expanded Value-Added Tax (E-VAT), or any subsequent VAT laws.

SECTION 16. Audit Personnel and Report. —

a) Personnel - The Commission on Audit shall appoint a representative who shall be the Auditor of the Corporation, and the necessary personnel to assist said representative in the performance of his duties. The number and salaries of the Auditor and said personnel shall be determined by the Commission on Audit, subject to appropriation by the Board of Directors. In case of disagreement, the matter shall be submitted to the President of the Philippines whose decision shall be final. Said salaries and all other expenses of maintaining the Auditor’s office shall be paid by the Corporation.

b) Report - The financial transactions of the Corporation shall be audited in accordance with law, administrative regulations and the principles and procedures applicable to commercial corporate transactions. The representative shall submit a report of audit of each fiscal year to the Board of Directors of the Corporation, and copies thereof shall be furnished the President of the Philippines, the Secretary of Transportation and the Presiding Officers of the two
houses of Congress. The report shall set forth the scope of the audit and shall include a statement of assets and liabilities, capital and surplus or deficit; a statement and surplus or deficit analysis; statement of income and expenses; a statement of sources and application of funds; and such comments and information as may be necessary, together with such recommendations with respect thereto as may be advisable, including a report of any impairment of capital noted in the audit. The report also shows specifically any program, expenditures or other financial transaction or undertaking observed in the course of the audit, which in the opinion of the Auditor, has
been carried on or made without authority of law.

SECTION 17. Legal Department. - Any provisions of law or executive order to the contrary notwithstanding, the Corporation shall have its own Legal Department, which shall handle all legal matters affecting the Corporation; Provided, That the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel shall provide assistance and supervision in the
handling of court cases of the Corporation.

SECTION 18. Exemption from Regulation. - The Corporation shall not be subject to the authority and supervision of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) or any similar regulatory body.

SECTION 19. Liquidation. - When its term or period of existence has expired in accordance with the provision of this Act, the Corporation shall nevertheless, continue as a body corporate for three years after the time of its dissolution for the purpose of prosecuting and defending suits by or against it and of enabling it to gradually settle and close its affairs, to dispose of and convey its properties, but not for the purpose of continuing the business for which it was established. In order to carry out its liquidation, upon the dissolution of the Corporation, a Board of Liquidators shall be appointed by the President to take charge of winding up its corporate affairs and effecting its liquidation.

SECTION 20. Reversion of General Funds. — All funds resulting from dissolution and liquidation of the Corporation as herein provided shall revert to the general funds of the Government.

SECTION 21. Separability Clause. - In the event any provision of this Act or the application of such provision to any person or circumstances is declared unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act or the application of said provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

SECTION 22. Repealing Clause. - The provisions of Republic Act No. 4156, as amended, creating the Philippine National Railways and all Acts, Executive Orders, and Proclamations or parts thereof inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Act, are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

SECTION 23. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect upon its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Approved,

 

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Senate Bill was filed by Senator Sonny Angara during the 18th Congress of Republic of the Philippines on the 10th of July 2019. This post focuses on this bill, and is divided into the following sections: 

 

Status and summary of the bill

Filed on July 10, 2019 by Angara, Sonny

Congressional website entry http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=18&q=SBN-327
Link to document SBN-327 (as filed)
Scope National
Status Pending in the Committee (7/31/2019)

 

Explanatory note

The senator's exploratory note appears below.

Mindanao is seen as a key driver of our country's economic growth, being the country's second biggest island grouping and home to more than 24 million people including 27 indigenous communities. Mindanao's population already comprises a quarter of the country's total population. It holds great promise for agriculture and industrial development—as well as abundant mineral resources valued at around $310 billion. There is also vast potential for renewable energy such as in biomass, ocean energy and wind power.

Based on the National Economic Development Authority's (NEDA) Mindanao Strategic Framework 2010-2020, Mindanao is envisioned to be a peaceful and sociallyinclusive community with a strong, sustainable and competitive economy that will be responsive to local and global opportunities. A world-class, extensive railway system throughout the island would greatly help realize this bright vision.

This bill seeks to establish a Mindanao Railways Corporation that will own and operate such a system that could possibly be comprised of railroads, tramways and other kinds of land transportation. The Corporation will see to it that there will be a considerable increase in the mobility of our Mindanaoan fellowmen. It will connect at first booming major urban centers and provincial capitals such as Davao City, Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Zamboanga City, Cotabato City, Marawi City, Pagadian City, and Dipolog and eventually cover as many Mindanaoan communities as possible.

We are convinced that the creation of the Mindanao Railways Corporation will pave the way to Mindanao's development and accelerate economic activity to immensely benefit traders and businessmen—and ultimately the entire country. In view of the foregoing reasons, approval of this bill is earnestly requested.

SONNY ANGARA

 

Text of the bill

The text of the senate bill appears below:


AN ACT CREATING THE MINDANAO RAILWAYS CORPORATION, PRESCRIBING ITS POWERS, FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES, AND PROVIDING FOR THE NECESSARY FUNDS FOR ITS OPERATION

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

Section 1. Name, Duration, and Domicile. - A corporation to serve as the instrumentality of the Government of the Philippines in providing a railroad and the transportation system for the whole island of Mindanao is hereby created, to be known as the Mindanao Railways Corporation, and hereafter referred to as the Corporation.

The Corporation shall exist for a term of fifty (50) years from the date of the approval of this Act. It shall have its main office in Davao City and shall have such branches and agencies within or outside Mindanao as may be necessary for the proper conduct of its business.

Sec. 2. Purposes and Specific Powers. - The Corporation shall have the following purposes and specific Powers:

(a) To own or operate railroads, tramways, and other kinds of land transportation, vessels and pipelines, for the purpose of transporting for consideration, passengers, mails and property between any point in Mindanao.

(b) As an auxiliary to its main purpose, to own and/or operate powerhouses, hotels, restaurants, terminals, warehouses, timber concessions, coal mines, iron and other mineral properties and to manufacture rolling stocks, equipment, tools and other appliances, to construct and operate in connection with its railroad lines, toll viaducts, toll tunnels and the like.

Sec. 3. Authorized Capital Stock o f the Mindanao Railways Corporation. - The Authorized Capital Stock of the Mindanao Railways Corporation shall be One Billion Pesos (P1,000,000,000.00) divided into Ten Million (P10,000,000.00) shares at par value shares of one hundred pesos each (PIOO.OO) which shall be fully subscribed by the Philippine Government, twenty percent (20%) of which or Two Hundred million pesos (P200,000,000.00) shall be initially paid-up and the balance shall be paid from a continuing annual appropriation of not less than two hundred million pesos (P200,000,000.00) which is hereby appropriated out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated. The said amount shall be programmed and released by the Budget Commission in accordance with the schedule of cash requirements to be prepared and submitted by the Mindanao Railways Corporation:

Provided, That this continuing annual appropriation of Two Hundred million pesos (P200,000,000.00) and the programming and release thereof shall remain in force until the authorized capital subscribed by the Government shall have been paid in full.

Sec. 4. General Powers. - The Corporation shall have the following general powers:

(a) To do all such other things and to transact all such business directly or indirectly necessary, incidental or conducive to the attainment of the purpose of the corporation; and

(b) Generally, to exercise all powers of a railroad corporation under the Corporation Law.

Sec. 5. Board o f Directors, Composition and Appointment. - The corporate powers of the corporation shall be vested in and exercised by a Board of Directors of not more than eleven and not less than five members as may be fixed by the President of the Philippines, consisting of chairman, vice-chairman, and other members appointed by the President of the Philippines with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. The members of the Board need not be stockholders of the Corporation, The first members of the Board shall serve as designated by the President in their appointments for terms of one, two, and three years, respectively, from the date they qualify an assume office; but their successors shall be appointed for terms of three, except that any person chosen to fill a vacancy shall serve only for the unexpired term of the member whom he succeeds. For actual attendance of the meetings, each such members shall receive a per diem of one thousand pesos (P1,000.00) or as may be approved by the Board: Provided, That the rate shall be in compliance with the limits provided for by existing laws, executive orders or rules issued by the Governance Commission for Government-owned and Controlled Corporations (GCG).

The Chairman and all the members of the Board must be residents of Mindanao for at least seven (7) years prior to the appointments.

Sec. 6. Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors. - The Board of Directors shall have the following powers and duties:

(a) To prescribe, amend and repeal, the by-laws, rules and regulations governing the manner in which the general business of corporation may be exercised, including provisions for the formation of such committee or committees as the Board of the Directors may deem necessary to facilitate its business.

(b) To appoint and fix the compensation of the General manager, subject to the
approval of the President of the Philippines, and to appoint and fix the compensation of the other officers of the Corporation. The Board by a majority vote of all the members may, for cause, suspend and/or remove the General Manager.

(c) To approve the annual and/or such supplemental budgets of the Corporation
which may be submitted to it by the General Manager from time to time.

Sec. 7. Suspension and Removal of Directors. - Any member of the Board of Directors may, for cause, be suspended or removed by the President of the Philippines.

Sec. 8. Prohibition for Board Members. - No Chairman or member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation shall at the same time serve in the Corporation in any capacity whatsoever other than as Chairman or member thereof, unless otherwise authorized by the President of the Philippines or existing law.

Sec. 9. Managing Head. -The management of the Corporation shall be vested in the General Manager.

Sec. 10. Powers and Duties of the General Manager. - The General Manager
shall have the following powers and duties:

(a) To direct and manage the affairs and business of the Corporation on behalf of the Board of Directors, and subject to its control and supervision;

(b) To sit in all meetings of the Board of Directors, as Vice-chairman, and
participates in its deliberations, with the right to vote, and to preside any
meetings for or in the absence of the Chairman;

(c) To submit within sixty (60) days after the close of each fiscal year an annual report, through the Board of Directors, to the office of the President of the Philippines;

(d) To appoint and fix the number and salaries, with the approval of the Board of Directors, to remove, suspend, or otherwise discipline, for cause, any subordinate employee of the Corporation; and

(e) To perform such other duties as may be assigned to him by the Board of Directors from time to time.

Sec. 11. Appointment and Promotion. - In the appointment and promotion of officers and employees, merit and efficiency shall serve as basis, and no political test or qualification shall be prescribed and considered for such appointments or promotions. Said officers and employees shall be subject to the Civil Service Law, rules and regulations.

Sec. 12. Exemption from Taxes, Duties and Port Charges. - The Corporation is hereby exempt from payment of all taxes of every name and nature - municipal, city, provincial or national- upon its capital stock, franchises, right of way, earnings, and all other property owned or operated by it and all duties on all railways materials, supplies and equipment imported in the Philippines for and/or by the said Corporation and this exemption shall extend to port charges upon vessels whose entire cargo consist of materials for the construction or equipment of the Corporation and to such proportion of the prescribed port charges on other vessels as the tonnage of materials for such constructions or equipment may bear to the tonnage of the cargo of the vessel.

Sec. 13. Audit Personnel and Report. - The Commission on Audit shall appoint a representative who shall be the Auditor of the Corporation, and the necessary personnel to assist said representative in the performance of his/her duties. The number and salaries of the Auditor and said personnel shall be determined by the Commission on Audit, subject to appropriation by the Board of Directors. In case of disagreement, the matter shall be submitted to the President of the Philippines whose decision shall be final. Said salaries and all other expenses of maintaining the Auditor's office shall be paid by the Corporation.

(a) Report - The financial transaction of the Corporation shall be audited in accordance with law, administrative regulations and the principles and procedures applicable to commercial corporate transactions. A report of audit for each fiscal year, by the representative of the Commission on Audit, through the latter, to the Board of directors of the Corporation, and copies thereof shall be furnished the President of the Philippines, and the Presiding Officers of the two Houses of Congress. The report shall set forth the scope of the audit and shall include a statement of assets and liabilities, capital and surplus or deficit;

a statement and surplus or deficit analysis; statement of income arid expenses;

a statement of sources and application of funds; and such comments and information as may be necessary, together with such recommendations with respect thereto as may be advisable, including a report of any impairment of capital noted in the audit. The report also shows specifically any program, expenditures or other financial transaction or undertaking observed in the course of audit, which in the opinion of the Auditor, has been carried on or made without authority of law.

Sec. 14. Legal Counsel. - The Corporation shall have its own Legal department, the chief and members of which shall be appointed by the Board of Directors.

Sec. 15. Exemption from the Land Transportation Commission Act. - The Corporation shall not be subject to the authority and supervision of the Land Transportation Commission.

Sec. 16. Liquidation. - When its term or period of existence has expired in accordance with the provision of this Act, the Corporation shall nevertheless continue as a body corporate for three (3) years after the time of its dissolution for the purpose of prosecuting and defending suits by or against it and of enabling it gradually to settle and close its affairs, to dispose of and convey its properties, but not for the purpose of continuing the business for which it was established. In order to carry out its liquidation, upon the dissolution of the Corporation, a Board of Liquidators shall be appointed by the President to take charge of winding up its corporate affairs and effecting its liquidation.

Sec. 17. Strikes During National Emergency. - The provisions of law to the contrary notwithstanding, in cases of national emergency, or when in the opinion of the President of the of the Philippines, the national security or interest is in imminent danger, employees and laborers of the Corporation shall not strike for the purpose of securing changes or modification in their terms and conditions of employment during said period of emergency.

Sec. 18. Reversion o f General Funds. - All funds resulting from dissolution and liquidation of the Corporation as herein provided shall revert to the general funds of the Government.

Sec. 19. Applicability o f the Corporation Law. - The provisions of the Corporation Law which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, shall be applicable lo the corporation created hereby.

Sec. 20. Repealing Clause. - The provisions of Republic Act No. 4156, as amended, creating the Philippine National Railways and all acts, executive orders, administrative orders, and proclamations or parts thereof inconsistent with any of the provision of this Act, are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

Sec. 21. Separability Clause. - If any part or provision of this Act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining parts or provisions not affected thereby, shall remain in full force and effect.

Sec. 22. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in any two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.

Approved,

 

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Senate Bill 554 was filed by Senator Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao during the 18th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines on the 16th of July 2019. This post focuses on this bill and is divided into the following sections:

 

Status and summary of the bill

Filed on July 16, 2019 by Pacquiao, Emmanuel "Manny" D.

Congressional website entry http://senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=18&q=SBN-554
Link to document SBN-554 (as filed)
Scope National
Status Pending in the Committee (8/7/2019)

 

Explanatory note

The bill's explanatory note appears below . . . as originally written

A recently released World Bank study acknowledged Mindanao to have what it takes to be among the most dynamic places in the Philippines. Mindanao is the second largest island group in the country with a population of 22 million (world’s 10th most populous island) and an annual population growth rate of 1.9 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Despite being branded as the food basket of the Philippines, inept conveyance of goods and services within the island remains a challenge in expediently accomplishing targets of agribusinesses and other economic activities. Poor quality of roads, incomplete road networks and wanting of a mass transit system, travel cost and food commodity transfer to Mindanao agricultural areas has been a daily struggle for the Mindanaoans.

In this regard, it is an established consensus that this longstanding challenge can be best fixed through the creation of Mindanao railways which is deemed as the best means to improve connectivity in provinces and major cities of Mindanao thereby efficiently maximizing the potentials of the

This bill seeks to enliance intercoimectivity and linkages tlirough passengers and freight railway transport development, and further boost trade, commerce and tourism in Mindanao. The Mindanao Railways Authority will manage and operate the originally proposed development phases of the Mindanao Railways Project or MindaRail, which is to be effected in six stages or phases that will eventually cover the whole of Mindanao including the inner cities and towns.

In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought.

EMMANUEL PACQUIAO

 

Text of the bill

 The text of the bill appears below.

AN ACT CREATING THE MINDANAO RAILWAYS AUTHORITY PRESCRIBING ITS POWERS, FUNCTIONS, AND DUTIES, AND PROVIDING FOR THE NECESSARY FUNDS FOR ITS OPERATION AND SUSTAINABILITY

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

CHAPTER 1 TITLE, POLICY AND OBJECTIVES

SECTION 1. Short Title —This Act shall be known as the “Mindanao Railways Authority Act of 2019.”

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. - It is hereby declared the policy of the State to attain inclusive growth and reduce poverty through infrastructure development aiming to improve the sectoral performance of tourism, agriculture and industries; improve goods and services;

improve the quality of the environment; and increase resilience to climate change and natural disasters, through the establishment of a sustainable transport system that is safe, efficient, and competitive.

Further, in order to promote comprehensive rural development and assure the human right to travel in Mindanao, the State shall (1) create a national government agency to achieve its development goals; and (2) provide appropriations for the construction, operation, maintenance and more importantly, the sustainability of the railways system and the operative budget of the national government agency to be created under this Act.

SEC. 3. Creation and Objectives. - There shall be created the Mindanao Railways Authority (MRA), hereinafter called the Authority, which is the national government agency attached to the Office of the Philippines, with the following immediate objectives:

a) To provide for the railways system in Mindanao connecting as vast an area as deemed feasible in consideration of the Mindanao Railways Project (MRP) as mandated under the Philippine National Railways Charter or Republic Act No.4156, and, the MRP Feasibility Study as an undertaking of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as Executing Agency and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) as Implementing Agency and funded under the General Appropriations Act of FY 2017;

b) To initiate the provisions of “An Act Facilitating The Acquisition Of Right-Of-Way Site or Location For National Government Infrastructure Projeets” or R.A. No. 10752 upon effectivity of this Act; and

c) To call upon all concerned National Government Agencies and Local Government Units to render technical and administrative support for the implementation of the provisions of this Act.

CHAPTER II NATURE, SPECIFIC AND GENERAL POWERS

SEC. 4. Name and Domicile. - To carry out the foregoing transportation policy, the Mindanao Railways Authority, shall be primarily responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of a railways transportation system in Mindanao. It shall have its main office in the City of Davao, and shall have such branches and agencies within or outside the Philippines as may be necessary for the proper conduct of its business.

SEC. 5. Purposes and Specific Powers. The Mindanao Railways Authority shall have the following purposes and specific powers:

a) To hold the assets of the Philippine National Railways, and to succeed to, or acquire, maintain and operate such grants, concessions and franchises as are now held and enjoyed by the PNR but limited only to those located in Mindanao among the aforementioned;

b) To own or operate railroads, tramways, and other kinds of land transportation, vessels and pipelines, for the purpose of transporting, for consideration, passengers, mail and property between any points in Mindanao; and

c) As an auxiliary to its main purpose, to own and/or operate powerhouses, hotels, restaurants, terminal and warehouses; to manufacture rolling stock, equipment, tools and other appliances; and, to construct and operate toll viaducts and toll tunnels, in connection with its railroad lines.

SEC. 6. General Powers. - The Authority shall have the following general powers:

a) To have continuous succession under its corporate name, until otherwise provided by law;

b) To prescribe, amend, and/or repeal its by-laws;

c) To adopt and use a seal and alter it at its pleasure;

d) To sue and be sued;

e) To contract any obligation or enter into, assign or accept the assignment of, and vary or rescind any agreement, contract or obligation necessary or incidental to the proper management of the Authority;

f) To borrow funds from any source, private or public, foreign or domestic, and to issue bonds and other evidence of indebtedness, the payment of which shall be guaranteed by the National Government, subject to pertinent borrowing laws;

g) To acquire, receive, take and hold by bequest, devise, gift, purchase or lease, either absolutely or in trust for any of its purposes, from foreign and domestic sources, any assets, grants or property, real or personal, subject to such limitations as are provided in existing laws; to convey or dispose such assets, grants, or properties, movable and immovable; and invest and/or reinvests such proceeds and deal with and expand its assets and income in such a manner as will best promote its objectives;

h) To improve, develop or alter any property held by it;

i) To carry on any business, either alone or in partnership with any other person or persons;

j) To employ an agent or contractor or perform such things as the Authority may perform;

k) To exercise the right of eminent domain, whenever the Authority deems it
necessary for the attainment of its objectives;

l) To prescribe rules and regulations in the conduct of its general business as well as to fix and implement the terms and condition of its related activities;

m) To determine the fares payable by persons travelling on the rail system, in
consultation with the Department of Transportation and the NED A;

n) To establish, operate, and maintain branches or field offices when required by the exigencies of its business;

o) To determine its organizational structure and the number, positions and salaries of its personnel, subject to pertinent organization and compensation law; and

p) To exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be necessary to carry out the business and purposes for which the Authority was established or which, from time to time, may be declared by the Board of Directors to be necessary, useful, incidental or auxiliary to accomplish such purposes; and generally, to exercise all powers of any Authority under the Corporation Law that are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, or with orders pertaining to government corporate budgeting, organization, borrowing, or compensation.

CHAPTER III THE MRA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

SEC. 7. The MRA Board of Directors. - To carry out the purposes of this Act, the MRA shall be directed and controlled by a Board of Directors. It shall be composed of the following members:

a) Secretary of Transportation, as Chairperson;
b) MRA Administrator, as Vice-Chairperson;
c) Secretary of Finance;
d) Secretary of Economic Planning, Director General of the NEDA;
e) Secretary of Public Works and Highways; and
f) Two representatives from the private sector who shall each be selected from the members of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) and the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME), to be appointed by the President of the Philippines who shall select from three (3) nominees submitted separately by the PICE and PSME. They shall serve a non-extendible single term of three (3) years.

The officials next in rank to, or such officials duly designated by, the regular members shall serve as alternate members, except that, in the absence of the Chairman, the Board shall elect a temporary presiding officer. The alternate members shall attend meetings of the Board and committees assigned to them by their principals and receive the corresponding per diems, whenever their principals are absent or said positions are vacant.

SEC. 8. Per Diem. - The members of the Board shall not receive any compensation but shall be provided with per diem at rates allowed under existing rules and regulations.

SEC. 9. Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors. - The Board of Directors shall have the following powers and duties:

a) To prescribe, amend and repeal, with the approval of the Administrator, the bylaws, rules and regulations governing the manner in which the general business of the Authority may be exercised, including provisions for the formation of such committee, or committees as the Board of Directors may deem necessary to facilitate its business;

b) To appoint and fix the compensation of the Administrator and of the other officers of the Authority, with the approval of the President and the Director General of NEDA. The Board by a majority vote of all the members, may, for cause, and with the approval of the President of the Philippines, suspend and or remove the Administrator;

c) To approve the annual and such supplemental budgets of the Authority which may be submitted to it by the Administrator from time to time.

SEC. 10. Suspension and Removal of Directors. - Any member of the Board of Directors may be suspended or removed by the President of the Philippines.

SEC. 11. Prohibited for Board Members. — No chairman or member of the Board of
Directors shall at the same time serve in the Authority in any capacity whatsoever other than as chairman or member thereof, unless otherwise authorized by the President of the Philippines or any existing law.

CHAPTER IV THE ADMINISTRATOR

SEC. 12. The Administrator. The management of the Authority shall be vested in the Administrator.

SEC. 13. Powers and Duties of the Administrator. - The Administrator shall have the following powers and duties:

a) To direct and manage the affairs and business of the Authority on behalf of the Board of Directors, and subject to its control and supervision;

b) To sit in all meetings of the Board of Directors, as Vice Chairman, and participate in all deliberation, with the right to vote, to preside any meetings for or in the absence of Chairman;

c) To submit within sixty days after the close of each fiscal year an annual report, through the Board of Directors, to the office of the President of the Philippines and the Congress of the Philippines;

d) To appoint and fix the number and salaries, with the approval of the Board of Directors, of such subordinate personnel as may be necessary for the proper discharge of duties and function of the Authority, and with the approval of the Board of Directors, to remove, suspend, or otherwise discipline, any subordinate employee of the Authority; and

e) To perform such other duties as may be assigned to him by the Board of Directors from time to time.

SEC. 14. Appointment and Promotion. - In the appointments and promotion of officers and employees, merit and efficiency shall serve as basis, and no political test or qualification shall be prescribed and considered for such appointments or promotion. Officers and employees shall be subject to the Civil Service Crew, rules and regulations.

CHAPTER V   MANDATED APPROPRIATIONS

SEC. 15. Appropriations. To carry out the purposes of this Act, the amount of One Billion Pesos (PI,000,000,000.00) is hereby authorized to be appropriated for the initial operation of the Mindanao Railways Authority. Therefore, the annual expenditures including Capital Outlays of the Authority shall be provided in the General Appropriations Act.

CHAPTER VI   TAXES, DUTIES AND CHARGE

SEC. 17. Exemptions from taxes, duties, customs bonds and port charges.- The authority is hereby exempt from payments of all national and local taxes upon its capital, franchises, right of way, earnings and all other property owned or operated by it and of all railways materials, supplies and equipment imported into the Philippines for and by the Authority. This exemption shall extend to port charges upon vessel whose entire cargo consists of material
for the construction equipment of the authority and on other vessels to such contraction or equipment may bear to the tonnage of the entire cargo of the vessel; and such exemption shall further extend to filling of general importer’s and general documentary bonds and warehouse bonds for the operation of its warehouse, whether bonded warehouse or general order store.

SEC. 18. Tax-exempt loans. The project and program loans to be obtained by the national government for the purposes of this Act shall be exempt from the payment of all national and local taxes.

CHAPTER VII AUDIT AND REPORTS

SEC. 19. Audit Personnel and Reports. - The Authority shall be subject to the Commission on Audit (COA) which shall have the power, authority and the duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property of the Authority.

a) Personnel. - The Chairman of the COA shall appoint a representative who shall be the Auditor of the Authority, and the necessary personnel to assist said representative in the performance of such duties. The number of personnel and corresponding salaries of the Auditor and the personnel shall be determined by the COA chairman, subject to appropriation by the Board of Directors. In the case of disagreement, the matter shall be final. Said salaries and all other expenses of maintaining the Auditor’s office shall
be paid by the Authority.

b) Report. The financial transaction of the Authority shall be audited in accordance with law. administrative regulations, and the principles and procedures applicable to the commercial corporate transaction. A report of audit for each for each Fiscal year, by the representative of the COA chairman, thought the latter, to the Board of Directors of the Authority, and Copies thereof shall be furnished the President of the Philippines, the secretary of Economic Planning, the Senate president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report shall be set forth tlie scope of the Audit and shall include a statement and surplus or deficit analysis; statement of income and expenses; a statement of sources and application of funds; and such comments and information as may be necessary, together with such recommendations with respect tliereto as may be advisable, including a report of any program, expenditures, or other financial transaction or undertaking observed in the course of audit, which in the opinion of the Auditor, has been carried out or made authority of Law.

SEC. 20. Legal Department. - The Authority shall have its own legal department, the Chief and members of which shall be appointed by the Administrator with the approval of the Board of Directors.

SEC. 21. Exemption from the LTFRB Law. - The Authority shall not be subject to the authority, supervision and control of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), created under Executive Order No. 202, Series of 1987.

SEC. 22. Strikes During National Emergency. - The provisions of law to the contrary notwithstanding, in cases of national emergency, or when in the opinion of the President of the Philippines, the national security or interest is in imminent danger, employees and laborers of the Authority shall not strike for the purposes of securing changes or modification in their terms and conditions of employment during said period of emergency;

Provided, however. That during the implementation of this Act, management and labor should always strive to maintain industrial peace by availing of and exhausting all methods of resolving all labor disputes to ensure the continuous, effective and successful establishment of the Mindanao Railways:
Provided, further. That the Authority may enter into collective bargaining agreements, one for personnel of supervisory rank and the other for personnel of non-supervisory rank regardless of the number of recognized unions which may be or might have been organized therein.

SEC. 23. Applicability of the Corporation Law. - The provisions of the Corporation Law which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, shall be applicable to the Authority.

SEC. 24. Implementing Rules and Regulations.—The Department of Transportation, in consultation with concerned government agencies and stakeholders, shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of this Act, within sixty (60) days from the effectively of this Act.

SEC. 25. Congressional Oversight Committee. - A Congressional Oversight Committee, hereinafter referred to as the "Committee", is hereby constituted in accordance with the provisions of this Act. The Committee shall be composed of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services and Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and four (4) additional members from each House to be designated by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively. The Committee shall, among others, in aid of legislation:

(a) Monitor and ensure the proper implementation of this Act;
(b) Review the collection performance of the Authority;
(c) Review the proper implementation of the programs of the Authority and the use of its collected fund.

In furtherance of the hereinabove cited objectives, the Committee is empowered to require the Authority to submit all pertinent information including, but not limited to, its collection performance data and its annual audited financial statements certified by the Commission on Audit.

The Congressional Oversight Committee shall be in existence for a period of five (5) years, and thereafter, its oversight functions shall be exercised by the Senate Committee on Public Services and the House Committee on Transportation acting separately.

SEC. 26. Separability Clause. - If any portion of this Act is declared unconstitutional or invalid, the portions or provisions which are not affected shall continue to be in full force and effect.

SEC. 27. Repealing Clause. - All laws, decrees, executive orders and rules and regulation or parts thereof which are inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

SEC. 28. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days following its publication in the Official Gazette or in any two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

Approved,

 

 

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Senate Bill 308, known by its "short title" as Mindanao Railways Development Act of 2019, was filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri during the 18th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines on the 10th of July 2019. This post focuses on this bill, and is divided into the following sections:

 

Status and summary of the bill

Filed on July 10, 2019 by Zubiri, Juan Miguel "Migz" F.

Congressional website entry http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=18&q=SBN-308
Link to document SBN-308 (as filed)
Scope National
Status Pending in the Committee (7/31/2019)

 

Explanatory note

The senator's exploratory note appears below.

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 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 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.

MIGUEL F. ZUBIRI

 

Text of the bill

The text of the senate bill appears below.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House o f Representatives o f the Philippines in Congress assembled:

CHAPTER I TITLE, POLICY AND OBJECTIVES

SECTION 1. Short Title. - This Act shall be known as the "Mindanao Railways Development Act of 2019".

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. - It is hereby declared the policy of the State to attain inclusive growth and reduce poverty through infrastructure development aiming to improve the sectoral performance of tourism, agriculture and industries; improve goods and services; improve the quality of the environment; and increase resilience to climate change and natural disasters, through the establishment of a sustainable transport system that is safe, efficient, and competitive.

Further, in order to promote comprehensive rural development and assure the human right to travel in Mindanao, the State shall (1) create a national government agency to achieve its development goals; and (2) provide appropriations for the construction, operation and maintenance of the railways system and the operative budget o f the national government agency to be created under this Act.

SEC. 3. Creation and Objectives. - There shall be created the Mindanao Railways Authority, hereinafter called the Authority, which is a national government agency attached to the Department of Transportation, with the following immediate objectives:

a) To provide for the railways system in Mindanao connecting as vast an area as deemed feasible in consideration of the Mindanao Railways Project (MRP) as mandated under the Philippine National Railways Charter or Republic Act No. 4156, and, the MRP Feasibility Study as an undertaking of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as Executing Agency and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as Implementing Agency and funded under the General Appropriations Act;

b) To initiate the provisions of An Act Facilitating The Acquisition Of Right-Of-Way Site Or Location For National Government Infrastructure Projects or R. A. No. 10752 upon effectivity of this Act; and

c) To call upon all concerned National Government Agencies and Local Government Units to render technical and administrative support for the implementation of the provisions of this Act.

CHAPTER II NATURE, SPECIFIC AND GENERAL POWERS

SEC. 4. Name and Domicile. — To carry out the foregoing transportation policy, the Mindanao Railways Authority, shall be primarily responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of a railways transportation system in Mindanao. It shall have its main office in the City of Davao, and shall have such branches and agencies within or outside the Philippines as may be necessary for the proper conduct of its business.

SEC. 5. Purposes and Specific Powers.- The Mindanao Railways Authority shall have the following purposes and specific powers:

a) To hold the assets of the Philippine National Railways, and to succeed to, or acquire, maintain and operate such grants, concessions and franchises as are now held and enjoyed by the PNR but limited only to those located in Mindanao among the aforementioned;

b) To own or operate railroads, tramways, and other kinds of land transportation, vessels and pipelines, for the purpose of transporting, for consideration, passengers, goods, mail and property between any points in Mindanao; and

c) As an auxiliary to its main purpose, to own and/or operate powerhouses, hotels, restaurants, terminals and warehouses; to manufacture rolling stock, equipment, tools and other appliances; and, to construct and operate toll viaducts and toll tunnels, in connection with its railroad lines.

SEC. 6. General Powers . The Authority shall have the following general powers:

a) To have continuous succession under its corporate name, until otherwise provided by law;

b) prescribe, amend, and/or repeal its by-laws;

c) To adopt and use a seal and alter it at its pleasure;

d) To sue and be sued;

e) To contract any obligation or enter into, assign or accept the assignment of, and vary or rescind any agreement, contract or obligation necessary or incidental to the proper management of the Authority;

f) To borrow funds from any source, private or public, foreign or domestic, and to issue bonds and other evidence of indebtedness, the payment of which shall be guaranteed by the National Government, subject to pertinent borrowing laws;

g) To acquire, receive, take and hold by bequest, devise, gift, purchase or lease, either absolutely or in trust for any of its purposes, from foreign and domestic sources, any assets, grant or property, real or personal, subject to such limitations as are provided in existing laws; to convey or dispose of such assets, grants, or properties, movable and immovable; and invest and/or reinvest such proceeds and deal with and expand its assets and income in such a manner
as will best promote its objectives;

h) To improve, develop or alter any property held by it;

i) To carry on any business, either alone or in partnership with any other person or persons;

j) To employ an agent or contractor or perform such things as the Authority may perform;

k) To exercise the right of eminent domain, whenever the Authority deems it necessary for the attainment of its objectives;

l) To prescribe rules and regulations in the conduct of its general business as well as to fix and implement the terms and conditions of its related activities;

m) To determine the fares payable by persons travelling on the rail system, in consultation with the Department of Transportation and the NEDA;

n) To establish, operate, and maintain branches or field offices when required by the exigencies of its business;

o) To determine its organizational structure and the number, positions and salaries of its personnel, subject to pertinent organization and compensation law; and

p) To exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be necessary to carry out the business and purposes for which the Authority was established or which, from time to time, may be declared by the Board of Directors to be necessary, useful, incidental or auxiliary to accomplish such purposes; and generally, to exercise all powers of any Authority under the Corporation Code that are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, or with orders pertaining to government corporate budgeting, organization, borrowing, or compensation.

CHAPTER III THE MRA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sec. 7. The MRA Board of Directors. - To carry out the purposes of this Act, the MRA shall be directed and controlled by a Board of Directors. It shail be composed of the following members:

a) Secretary of Transportation, as Chairperson;
b) MRA Administrator, as Vice-Chairperson;
c) Secretary of Finance;
d) Secretary of Economic Planning, Director General of the NEDA;
e) Secretary of Public Works and Highways; and
f) Two representatives from the private sector who shall each be selected from the members of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) and the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME), to be appointed by the President of the Philippines who shall select from three (3) nominees submitted separately by the PICE and PSME. They shall serve a non-extendible single term of three (3) years.

The government representatives in the Board may designate their respective permanent alternates who shall be officials next-in-rank to them and their acts shall be considered the acts of their principals. In the absence of the Chairman, the Board shall elect a temporary presiding officer.

SEC. 8. Per Diem. --The members of the Board shall not receive any compensation but shall be provided with per diem dit rates allowed under existing rules and regulations.

SEC. 9. Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors. —Th e Board of Directors shall have the following powers and duties:

a) To prescribe, amend and repeal, with the recommendation of the Administrator, the by-laws, rules and regulations governing the manner in which the general business of the Authority may be exercised, including provisions for the formation of such committee, or committees as the Board of Directors may deem necessary to facilitate its business;

b) To appoint and fix the compensation o f the Administrator and of the other officers of the Authority, with the approval of the President. The Board by a majority vote of all the members, may, for cause, and with the approval of the President of the Philippines, suspend and or remove the Administrator; and

c) To approve the annual and such supplemental budgets of the Authority which may be submitted to it by the Administrator from time to time.

SEC. 10. Suspension and Removal of Directors. — Any member of the Board of Directors may be suspended or removed by the President of the Philippines.

SEC. 11. Prohibition for Board Members. - No chairman or member of the Board of Directors shall at the same time serve in the Authority in any capacity whatsoever other than as Chairman or member thereof, unless otherwise authorized by the President of the Philippines or any existing law.

CHAPTER IV THE ADMINISTRATOR

SEC. 12. The Administrator. - The management of the Authority shall be vested in the Administrator.

SEC. 13. Powers and Duties of the Administrator. —The Administrator shall have the following powers and duties:

a) Jo direct and manage the affairs and business of the Authority on behalf of the Board of Directors, and subject to its control and supervision;

b) To sit in all meetings of the Board of Directors, as Vice-Chairman, and participate in its deliberation, with the right to vote, and to preside in meetings for or in the absence of the Chairman;

c) To submit within sixty days after the close of each fiscal year an annual report, through the Board of Directors, to the Office of the President of the Philippines and the Congress of the Philippines;

d) To appoint and fix the number and salaries, with the approval of the Board of Directors, of such subordinate personnel as may be necessary for the proper discharge of the duties and functions of the Authority, and with the approval of the Board of Directors, to remove, suspend, or otherwise discipline, for cause, any subordinate employee of the Authority; and

e) To perform such other duties as may be assigned to him by the Board of Directors from time to time.

SEC. 14. Appointment and Promotion. - In the appointment and promotion of officers and employees, merit and efficiency shall serve as basis, and no political test or qualification shall be prescribed and considered for such appointments or promotions. Said
officers and employees shall be subject to the Civil Service Law, rules and regulations.

CHAPTER V MANDATED APPROPRIATIONS

SEC. 15. Appropriation To carry out the purposes of this Act , the amount of One billion pesos (P1,000,000,000) is hereby authorized to be appropriated for the initial operation of the Mindanao Railways Authority. Thereafter, the annual expenditures including capital outlays of the Authority shall be provided in the General Appropriations Act.

CHAPTER VI TAXES, DUTIES AND CHARGES

SEC. 17. Exemption from Taxes, Duties, Customs Bonds an d Port Charges. — The Authority is hereby exempt from payment of all national and local taxes upon its capital, franchises, rights of way, earnings, and all other property owned or operated by it and of all duties on all railways materials, supplies and equipment imported into the Philippines for and by the Authority. This exemption shall extend to port charges upon vessels whose entire cargo consists of materials for the construction or equipment of the Authority, and, on other vessels to such proportion of the prescribed port charges as the tonnage of materials for such constructions or equipment may bear to the tonnage of the entire cargo of the vessel; and such exemption shall further extend to the filing of general importer's and general documentary bonds and warehouse bonds for the operation of its warehouses, whether general bonded warehouses or general order store.

SEC. 18. Tax-exempt Loans. --The project and program loans to be obtained by the National Government for the purposes of this Act shall be exempt from the payment of all national and local taxes.

CHAPTER VII AUDIT AND REPORTS

SEC. 19. Audit Personnel and Reports. — The Authority shall be subject to the Commission on Audit (COA) which shall have the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property of the Authority.

a) Personnel. - The Chairman of the COA shall appoint a representative who shall be the Auditor of the Authority, and the necessary personnel to assist said representative in the performance of such duties. The number and salaries of the Auditor and said personnel shall be determined by the the COA Chairman, subject to appropriation by the Board of Directors. In case of disagreement, the matter shall be submitted to the President of the Philippines whose decision shall be final. Said salaries and all other expenses of maintaining the Auditor's office shall be paid by the Authority.

b) Report. - The financial transactions of the Authority shall be audited in accordance with law, administrative regulations, and the principles and procedures applicable to commercial corporate transactions. A report of audit for each fiscal year, by the representative of the COA Chairman, through the latter, to the Board of Directors of the Authority, and copies thereof shall
24 be furnished the President of the Philippines, the Secretary of Economic Planning, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report shall set forth the scope of the audit and shall include a statement of assets and liabilities, capital and surplus or deficit; a statement and surplus or deficit analysis; statement of income and expenses; a statement of sources and application of funds; and such comments and information as may be necessary, together with such recommendations with respect thereto as may be advisabie, inciuding a report of any impairment of capitai noted in the audit. The report shaii aiso show specificaiiy any program, expenditures, or other financiai transaction or undertaking observed in the course
of audit, which in the opinion of the Auditor, has been carried out or made without authority of iaw.

SEC. 20. Legal Department --The Authority shaii have its own iegai department, the chief and members of which shaii be appointed by the Administrator with the approval of the Board of Directors.

SEC. 21. Exemption from the LTFRB Law. — The Authority shall not be subject to the authority, supervision and control of the Land Transportation Franchising and Reguiatory Board (LTFRB), created under Executive Order No. 202, Series of 1987.

SEC. 22. Strikes During National Emergency. -The provisions of iaw to the contrary notwithstanding, in cases of national emergency, or when in the opinion of the President of the Phiiippines, the national security or interest is in imminent danger, employees and laborers of the Authority shall not strike for the purpose of securing changes or modification in their terms and conditions of employment during said period of emergency:

Provided, however, That during the implementation of this Act, management and labor should always strive to maintain industrial peace by availing of and exhausting all methods of resolving all labor disputes to ensure the continuous, effective and successful establishment of the Mindano Railways:

Provided, further, That the Authority may enter into collective negotiation agreements, one for personnel of supervisory rank and the other for personnel of non-supervisory rank regardless of the number of recognized unions which may be or might have been organized therein.

SEC. 19. Applicability of the Revised Corporation Code. — The provisions of the Corporation Code which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, shall be applicable to the Authority.

SEC. 21. Implementing Rules and Regulations. --The Department of Transportation, in consultation with concerned government agencies and stakeholders, shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of this Act, within sixty (60) days from the
effectivity of this Act.

SEC. 22. Congressional Oversight Committee. - There is hereby created a Congressional Oversight Committee on Railways to be composed of five (5) members from the Senate, which shall include the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, and,
five (5) members from the House of Representatives, which shall include the Chairperson of the House Committee on Transportation. The Congressional Oversight Committee on Railways shall be jointly chaired by the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services and the Chairperson of the House Committee on Transportation. The Congressional Oversight Committee on Railways shall exercise oversight on the implementation of this Act

SEC. 23. Separability Clause. - If any portion of this Act is declared unconstitutional or invalid, the portions or provisions which are not affected shall continue to be in full force and effect.

SEC. 24. Repealing Clause. — All laws, decrees, executive orders and rules and regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

SEC. 25. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation and the Official Gazette.

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