Press Release
April 23, 2016


MISAMIS ORIENTAL--If the "Gobyernong may Puso" wins, independent vice-presidential bet Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said it will prioritize the construction of the proposed Mindanao Rail Project (MRP) deemed crucial to the economic development of the region.

Escudero said the planned passenger and freight railway transport development will be made possible through the P1 trillion they will allocate for Mindanao under the national budget.

"Bahagi ang [MRP] ng isang trilyong pisong ilalaan namin sa Mindanao para magkaroon dito ng railway system, lalo na ang cargo para maging mas mura ang transportasyon ng inyong mga produkto," Escudero told a radio interview in Gingoog City on Friday.

The veteran lawmaker said the proposed railway transport service will boost tourism, trade and commerce in the country's second largest island, dubbed as the "Land of Promise."

It will also expand local markets for more efficient movement of goods and people to promote productivity and trade competitiveness, he added.

"Ang Mindanao ay palaging tinatawag na lupa ng pangako pero gagawain po namin itong lupa ng katuparan," Escudero said.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is now in the process of conducting a feasibility study for MRP, which would link major cities including Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, Davao and General Santos.

According to NEDA, the MRP will "play a major role towards improvement of Mindanao's intra-island accessibility, linkages and seamless multimodal transport networks."

It also noted that 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 or BIMP-EAGA region.

The Poe-Escudero tandem plans to allocate 30 percent of the present national budget, or about P1 trillion, to Mindanao in order to provide immediate economic relief to the region, which has 11 of the country's 20 poorest provinces.

Escudero said at least P25 billion will be earmarked for each province in Mindanao in the first year of the Poe administration to help them catch up with the projects and developments in the two other major regions.

He lamented that for the past years, Mindanao has been getting lesser attention from the national government compared to Luzon and the Visayas.

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