Press Release
August 22, 2016


Mindanao is dubbed as the "land of promise" because of its rich biodiversity and natural resources. However, the major island in the south of the country experiences rampant poverty with 60% percent of the entire population living below the poverty line and nearly a third of the population battling with hunger on a daily basis. - the Social Weather Stations conducted a survey and Mindanao has the highest incidence of 23%. These challenges to development are compounded by clan wars, kidnapping, piracy, corruption, regular clashes and killings. And yet the people of Mindanao live in a land that is rich with agriculture (banana, pineapple, cacao, coffee and rubber), sea products, minerals (copper and gold) and energy products (natural gas and oil

The solution is a train - a Mindanao Railway Project that is highly needed to boost the economic development in the region. The railway system is expected to connect major urban centers such as Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Dipolog, Butuan, Surigao, Davao, and General Santos to facilitate the movement of goods and people in an efficient and cost effective manner. Now that there is a President, a Senate President and a House Speaker who all hail from Mindanao, it is high time to fulfill the promise of full development for Mindanao which has long been overdue.

The Mindanao Railway is the grand express that will pump prime the development of Mindanao. Our vision is to bring goods and passengers from one important trade hub to another in that part of the archipelago. We seek to build a train that will connect one end of Mindanao to another, and the land areas adjacent to the railroad tracks will naturally appreciate in value. For every train stop, we will create not just transport hubs, but economic opportunities since business and investments will be encouraged to set up their facilities (factories, housing, retail outlets) in these populated and high-traffic areas. The construction of railroad tracks and the building of this train system will need a huge labor force and will create jobs for the impoverished population in Mindanao. Thus, the people of Mindanao will no longer need to travel and relocate to congested Manila and other urban areas in Mindanao and the Visayas in order to earn a living. We likewise wish to provide an alternative transport system that can easily, in a cost effective and reliable manner, bring the agricultural products of poor farmers in Mindanao from one point to another. The transport of goods via railway, instead of the highway or regular road networks, will create an advantage for the farmers. Speed and reliability are the main ingredients for growth and development. Whoever can bring their goods faster and on schedule to its market will have more chances of providing quality service while gaining a profit.

The impact of the Mindanao Railway Project is of gargantuan proportion. Social impact includes mixing of cultures due to greater mobility, increased short-term travel to domestic tourism spots and encouragement of using other local areas for re addressing peace and order issues. To reiterate, the economic impact includes employment generation since people are needed to construct, run and maintain railways; the transport of heavy materials and cargo will become more cost-effective and will reach its destination market faster; perishable food can be moved quickly; regional products will reach other parts of the country and can become household names; people and corporations will invest in railway stocks and boost the economy not only in the Mindanao region but in the country as a whole. It is clear that we need the Mindanao Railway Project but the more important question in everyone's mind is how much will this cost, and can we afford it? This is surely no small-scale endeavor because a railway project is very expensive indeed (around P3 billion/kilometer) with current cost estimates ranging from P420 billion to over a 1 trillion pesos. I will readily admit to you that the government will initially not be able to recoup this huge investment, whichever way you look at it. However, rail globally is subsidized. This is admittedly a loss leader, but we will benefit later on from downstream investments and no one can belie the social, political and economic impact that the Mindanao Railway Project can bring to the Mindanao region.

The people of Mindanao deserve this investment now. Building the Mindanao Railway will jumpstart the development sought in the region. Our government must anchor this railway investment using the developmental approach. If we lay down the vision now, and enact the law for the Mindanao Railway, slowly we will be able to see the fruits of our investment. The multiplier effect will follow so much so that we will be able to exclaim: "Wow, Mindanao!"

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