MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte approved the creation of the Philippine Railways Institute (PRI) to ensure efficient, reliable and safe railway transportation services in the country.
Under Executive Order 96, which the President signed on November 21, the PRI will be placed under the administrative supervision of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and will serve as the planning, implementing, and regulatory agency for human resources development in the railway sector.
“There is an urgent need to develop the human resource capacities of railways personnel to ensure their availability and competence, and guarantee their compliance with generally accepted standards of practice, as well as the rules and regulations pertaining to the safety, operation, and maintenance of railways,” the EO reads.
It also acknowledges that the transportation sector, which includes the railway industry, has been identified as a priority sector under Ambisyon Nation 2040, where investments should be complemented by appropriate human capital development.
Powers and functions
The PRI will be in charge of developing, formulating and recommending plans, programs, standards, and guidelines on the development of personnel in the railway sector, as well as promoting safety in train operations, and establishing and administering a comprehensive human resources development program for railway personnel.
The EO tasked the PRI to coordinate with government agencies to assist in the formulation of guidelines on human resources development and other matters.
These agencies include the Department of Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Commission on Higher Education, Professional Regulation Commission, and the University of the Philippines National Center for Transportation Studies.
Other functions and powers are: To prescribe rules and regulations for the issuance of certificates attesting to the competence of railway personnel, including train drivers; prescribe rules and regulations for the accreditation of training facilities of railways operators and independent training centers; and assist in the enforcement of laws, rules and regulations in the field of human resources development for the railways sector.
It is also tasked to determine and collect reasonable fees, dues or assessments relative to certificates and accreditations issued under this Order, and all training and services to be administered by the PRI.
Moreover, it is allowed to accept donations, grants, services and assistance of all kinds from private and public sources, foreign governments, and international institutions, and use them so long as they are approved by the President or his authorized representative.
As for its organizational structure, the PRI will consist of appropriate divisions on training, certification and accreditation, and research and development.
An Executive Director (ED), with the rank of an undersecretary who will be appointed by the President, will lead the agency.
The ED will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the PR, exercise control over its personnel, and submit to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) the institute’s organizational structure as approved by the Transportation Secretary.
Qualifications for the ED are a master's degree in a related field and experience in the administration, management or implementation of transportation capacity development programs.
The initial budget of the PRI will be sourced from the available funds of the DOTr while appropriations for the succeeding years shall be incorporated in the annual budget proposal of the DOTr. (PNA)