Sen. Chiz Escudero said the next administration should fast-track the establishment of the Mindanao Railway System (MRS) to speed up development in the island through the creation of commercial centers along rail networks and stations.
“The continued neglect of Mindanao has caused resentment and even fueled separatist sentiments in the region.The next administration must put Mindanao on top of the national agenda,” Escudero said.
“One way of doing this is lay down the foundation for the building of the MRS,” he said.
The proposed MRS network will have a total length of approximately 1,726 kilometers consisting of eight lines that will connect Davao City to Zamboanga City, with the route passing Cotabato City, General Santos City (GenSan), Butuan City, Cagayan de Oro City (CDO), Iligan City and Dipolog City.
The Philippines currently has less than 900 kilometers of railroads, with most of the 378 kilometers in operation located in Luzon, specifically in southern Luzon and the Bicol region.
According to the Department of Transportation and Communication, only the feasibility study for the CDO-Iligan corridor has been finalized while the one for the CDO-GenSan line is still ongoing. The Iligan-Zamboanga line, on the other hand, is at the technical assessment level.
When done, travel time from Iligan to CDO is expected to take only about 20 minutes, a significant reduction from the current three-hour bus ride on the 145-kilometer route.
Escudero pointed out that railway transport is the cheapest form of land transportation, and stressed that the establishment of the MRS would create employment, spur intra-island trade and tourism.