Pulong wants to see Mindanao Railway Project done the right way

The Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) was one of the many big ticket infrastructure development projects initiated by former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Davao City 1st district Rep. Paolo Duterte (Facebook)

Now, his son, Davao City 1st district Rep. Paolo Duterte, wants to make sure that it is being done the right way.

Rep. Duterte along with Benguet lone district Rep. Eric Yap filed House Resolution (HR) No.286, which calls for a congressional investigation on the proposed MRP, specifically on the way the Department of Transportation (DOTr) carried out its right-of-way acquisitions and expropriation of private properties to be affected by the rail line.

Recent reports revealed that the MRP will also pass through densely populated areas in Davao City, “without the appropriate geological surveys or proper public consultations with the affected communities".

Duterte and Yap acknowledged in their resolution that the MRP “will not only make travel faster, but also safer, more convenient and comfortable for passengers in the said corridor".

However, they said that “It has come to our attention through various reports from the local communities affected that there are variations in the offers for acquisition of right-of-way or expropriation of the private properties by the DOTr and/or its contractors, sub-contractors, or other service providers.”

“These variations in offers have substantial discrepancies from the actual Zonal Value or Fair Market Value of the properties affected,” Rep. Duterte and Yap pointed out.

Among the properties covered include those located in Barangays New Visayas and Datu Abdul Dadia, both in Panabo City.

The authors noted that among the densely populated areas in Davao City to be traversed by the MRP include Barangay Catalunan Grande, which has issued a resolution opposing the project “as this will result to undue safety and health hazard, as well as noise pollution, to name a few.”

“There is a need to properly determine the correct and appropriate manner of identifying the areas where the MRP will traverse in order to ensure public safety and welfare while still being able to pursue the MRP for sustained growth and development in the region,” they said in filing HR No.286.

Rep. Duterte and Yap said the probe will “ensure transparency and accountability the use of public funds while always keeping in mind the safety and welfare of the general populace in the delivery of public services".

The two legislators have filed a similar resolution in the previous 18th Congress seeking a probe into the implementation of the MRP.

The three-phase MRP, which will be implemented by the DOTr, is the first rail system outside Luzon. It covers 1,530 kilometers (kms) of circumferential and spur rail lines that will connect the Davao provinces, Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, General Santos City, and Zamboanga.

Phase 1 of the MRP (Tagum-Davao-Digos segment) is a 105-km line that is expected to reduce travel time from Davao del Norte to Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to just 1.3 hours. It will have eight stations: Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao Terminal, Toril, Sta. Cruz, and Digos. A 10-hectare depot will be built in Tagum City.