Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Z. Duterte (left) and Benguet lone district Rep. Eric Yap. (PNA file photo)

DAVAO CITY – Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Z. Duterte and Benguet lone district Rep. Eric Yap have filed a House resolution (HR) calling for a congressional investigation on the proposed Mindanao Railway Project (MRP).

HR 286 specifically seeks an inquiry on the way the Department of Transportation (DOTr) carried out its right-of-way acquisitions and expropriation of private properties to be affected by the rail line.

In a statement Friday, Duterte made it clear that he and Yap are not opposed to the continuance of the project, but are urging the national government to look into several complaints and accusations of anomalies by residents affected by the planned project.

“I received numerous complaints from Davao City residents whose residences would be directly affected by the proposed railway line,” Duterte said.

The PHP81.6-billion MRP is one of the flagship projects under the past Duterte administration.

Its Tagum-Davao-Digos segment of the 100-kilometer line is expected to reduce travel time from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur from 2.5 hours to 1.3 hours.

The three-phase MRP covers 1,530 kilometers of circumferential rail lines that will connect several areas in Mindanao, such as the Davao provinces and the cities of Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, and Zamboanga.

But Duterte noted that the MRP rail line would pass through densely populated areas in Davao City, “without the appropriate geological surveys or proper public consultations with the affected communities”.

Duterte said there were also reports that some politicians bought a vast parcel of land where the rail line will be constructed at a cheap price and are now selling it to the government 10 times or more than the original price.

Barangay Catalunan Grande in Davao City has earlier passed a resolution opposing the MRP as it would affect several residences in their area, and "result to undue safety and health hazard, as well as noise pollution, to name a few."

“There is a need to properly determine the correct and appropriate manner of identifying the areas where the MRP will traverse to ensure public safety and welfare while still being able to pursue the MRP for sustained growth and development in the region,” the lawmakers said.

Still, Duterte and Yap acknowledged in the resolution that the MRP “will not only make travel faster but also safer, more convenient and comfortable for passengers in the said corridor”.

The lawmakers said the probe will “ensure transparency and accountability on the use of public funds, while always keeping in mind the safety and welfare of the general populace in the delivery of public services”. (PNA)