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The first phase construction of the proposed 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway System (MRS) may soon be a reality if the bill filed by Representatives Rufus Rodriguez and Maximo Rodriguez Jr. is passed into law.
House Bill 4059 seeks to appropriate the proceeds of the privatization and sale of the old Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City to finance the MRS project.
“With the opening of the Laguindingan International Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental in June last year, the old Lumbia Airport is not being used anymore,” the lawmakers said in the bill’s explanatory note.
The Lumbia Airport used to be the second busiest gateway in Mindanao, after the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City, until it closed in 2013 due to safety issues.
The Laguindingan Airport, which boasts of state-of-the-art facilities, is now the main airport of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Cities.
The Department of Transportation and Communication has confirmed that the Lumbia Airport will be privatized through a public process based on Executive Order No. 323 or the rules and regulations covering the state privatization program.
DOTC previously said proceeds from the privatization of the old Lumbia Airport may be used to finance other government infrastructure programs.
For the brothers Rodriguez, the money from the airport’s privatization should be “devoted exclusively” to finance the first phase of the MRS – the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Railway project.
The 124-kilometer line will traverse 10 coastal municipalities in Misamis Oriental, including Lugait, Manticao, Laguindingan, El Salvador and Opol.
The feasibility study for the MRS is being reviewed if it could be implemented as a public -private partnership (PPP) project.
HB 4059 has been pending with the House Transportation committee since March 10, 2014. – Xianne Arcangel/VS, GMA News