Another “Battle of the Rails” between China and Japan in the Philippines

Minadanao Railway Project (Graphic from Philnews.ph)

The 2,000 km Mindanao Railway System project opens a new battle between China and Japan China and Japan construction corporations are interested to implement the 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway System which is proposed to start from Davao to the eastern part of Mindanao. This is the new emerging battle between China and Japan which will take place in the Filipino archipelago. It follows other fights between both economic powers for the development of rail networks in Indonesia and Thailand.

According to the Philippines News Agency, it seems that China is likely to win over Japan. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Ernesto Pernia said to PNA that China is more aggressive in doing the project that could start next year.

“Probably, both can do the project but I do not know how we get them together,” Pernia said. There are also reports that South Korea also offered to be involved into the project.

The Mindanao Railway System is one of the major infrastructure development projects of the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte over the next six years. The new President wants to start the construction of the railway system under his term. Pernia said the project will be done by segments starting from Davao to the eastern part of Mindanao toward Cagayan de Oro City. It will go beyond the six-year term of President Duterte.

As to funding for the project, Pernia said, “The money is not really a major consideration, because there are so many investors interested.”

NEDA-XI Regional Director Ma. Lourdes Lim said the feasibility study (FS) of the railway system will be completed within the month. “It is almost complete and the study is being done by a NEDA-backed team,” she said. Once the FS is completed, she said it will be reviewed with further recommendations by the NEDA Board and to be submitted to the Inter-Agency Cabinet Cluster.

Last week, Senator Richard Gordon filed a Senate bill aimed at creating the Mindanao Railway Corporation, an agency that would be authorized to establish and maintain an efficient railway system. Gordon backed the establishment of a railway system in Mindanao to spur economic growth and development in the second largest island in the country.

“Mindanao is known as the Land of Promise, yet until the present, the State has failed to maximize the potential of the island to contribute to regional and national economic development. It is essential to facilitate transportation for both people and goods to spur economic growth and development in Mindanao,” he pointed out.

Gordon said the creation of the Mindanao Railway Corporation is a crucial step in the government’s efforts to fully harness the natural and human resources of Mindanao for the benefit of the island’s inhabitants and the Filipino people as a whole.”Once completed, the Railway would link the entire island of Mindanao, forever changing the nature of Mindanao’s politics and economy,” he added.

Aside from the Mindanao railway, President Duterte plans to build the Manila-Nueva Vizcaya, Manila-Sorsogon, and Manila-Batangas lines. In contrary to previous governments who launched infrastructure projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, the Philippines President wants the Mindanao rail infrastructure to be owned by the government to avoid litigation.

(Source: Phillipines News Agency)

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