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DOTr asking Senate for help as Mindanao Railway gets zero budget in 2022

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is seeking the Senate’s help to restore the budget for its Mindanao Railway Project in next year’s appropriations as the big ticket infrastructure program received zero allocation from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Transportation Secretary for Railways Timothy John Batan revealed, during the Senate Committee on Finance’s deliberations on the DOTr’s proposed P150.76-billion budget for 2022, that the DBM did not approve the agency’s request for funding for the railway project.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran, in a text message, said the DOTr requested P2 billion to implement the project next year.

“Unfortunately, hindi napagbigyan ng DBM at tayo po ay intended na magre-request din po sana kasama ang Senado na malagyan ng ito ng budget,” Batan said.

[Unfortunately, the DBM did not approve our request and we intend to request the Senate to give a budget to the project.]

Sought for comment, DBM officer-in-charge Undersecretary Tina Rose Canda told GMA News Online that the Mindanao Railway Project is still at the right-of-way (ROW) acquisition stage and “it’s slow-moving.”

Asked if the DBM found it uncertain that the project will move forward due to its slow pace, thus the zero budget, Canda said, “Yes.”

In February, the DOTr said the construction of the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment of the Mindanao Railway Project was still unclear because the government had  yet to secure the loan funding from China. 

China required the procurement process before a loan agreement would be signed.

The Mindanao Railway Project, a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, was first set to begin construction in January 2019.

The partial operability of railway project worth P80 billion  covers the 100.2-kilometer Tagum-Davao-Digos segment.

The project's construction will be financed through an official development assistance from China. -NB, GMA News