TRAIN OF HOPE

AFTER more than two decades and lots of hurdles along the way, the construction of the proposed 830-kilometer Mindanao Railway Network (MRN) appears to be more certain now than ever before.

This after the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board on June 28 approved the P35.26-B allocation for Phase 1 of the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment of the big ticket project. 

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) aims to begin operations of the railway by 2022.

The multi-billion project which was first proposed in 1992 has seen four presidents come and go, and for various reasons has failed to make a leap from the drawing board.

It took the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte – who incidentally is the first president from Mindanao – to finally see the realization of the ‘dream’ railway project that would link Tagum City in Davao del Norte to Digos City in Davao del Sur.

To recall, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had even created the Mindanao Railways Office under the transportation department, but it was abolished by her successor Benigno Aquino III.

With Aquino sending the project in the backburner, all hopes were dashed especially since everybody knows that he does not really care and mind the real needs of the poor and was only concerned on what the elitists and the international community would want him to do.     

Thankfully, when Duterte assumed the country’s reins last year, he announced that the railway network would be his first big project. 

And to everybody’s delight, he made good on his promise.

This paper believes that for many Mindanaoans, the railway is more than just another big-ticket infrastructure project by the government.

For many, it is also a symbol of hope and a proof that the ‘imperial government’ in Manila is finally acknowledging their existence after being ignored for the longest time.

Aside from considerably easing the transfer of people and goods that would surely jumpstart Mindanao’s overall social and economic development, the railway also symbolizes the elusive peace and unity that the region’s people are hoping to achieve.

And with the railway network expected to bring progress in the long-neglected region, there is every reason to hope that peace might finally reign there.

And the people of Mindanao have President Duterte to thank for it!   

 

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