MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker believes that the upcoming directive from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. – to speed up the processing of documents required for infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs) – will bode well for the revival of the South Long Haul Project.
In a statement on Monday, Bicol Saro Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan said Marcos’ directive will help expedite the release of permits required for Philippine National Railway (PNR) Manila to Bicol trips, affectionately known as “Bicol Express” mentioned, to initiate.
“One of the expected problems in the revival of the Bicol Express is the long process of obtaining permits, approvals, licenses and other documentation requirements to kick off the project,” Yamsuan said.
“The soon to be issued EO (executive order) by the President will certainly streamline all these once tedious processes and shorten the timeline for the completion of the Bicol Express,” he added.
Marcos’ plans to draft an executive order that would expedite the processing of the required documents were unveiled last Thursday by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
According to Balisacan, the EO will need government offices, agencies and even local government units to simplify the processes required for IFPs.
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As recently as September 13, Yamsuan urged the government to push ahead with the South Long Haul project through a public-private partnership (PPP), rather than relying on a loan from China.
Yamsuan said this should be the next step for the government as China has not made any solid commitment to the plan.
The Bicol Express, which runs from Metro Manila to Albay, would be financed by a P142 billion foreign loan from the China Export-Import Bank. But the bank has not yet approved the loan, so no civil works contract has been signed for the project.
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Yamsuan reiterated that the said project would not only benefit commuters traveling from Manila to the Bicol region but also businesses that would spring up near the stations.
“The Bicol Express was the oldest train service in Southeast Asia. Its rebirth has been long awaited by Bicolanos, who long for the day when the Bicol Express would once again provide them with greater access to employment and educational opportunities,” he added.