MANILA - Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito has appealed to his colleagues to restore the budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the country’s railway system, saying the cuts might cripple the ongoing railways project, particularly the North-South Commuter Railway System and the first phase of the Metro Subway System.
“I appeal to my colleagues to restore the budget that was cut. Halos kalahati (Almost half). This will definitely affect the schedules. This will also entail financial charges. We will be burdened by these financial charges,” he said during the interpellation of the DOTr budget late Wednesday night.
He said at the House of Representative, the commuter railway system suffered a budget cut of around PHP40 billion, while PHP10 billion was slashed from the proposed budget for the subway system.
The Senate, on the other hand, removed some PHP69 billion from the budget’s unprogrammed appropriations, which will be used to pay for the live contracts of the said project’s contractors.
“Both the national government and the country’s economic recovery will suffer from these budget cuts on the railway sector,” Ejercito said.
He said the development of the country’s railway system will serve as the country’s economic driver and stimulate economic growth.
“It (railway system) will bring massive development, not just in Metro Manila, but in other parts of the country as well, and will create jobs and improve the lives of Filipinos by spreading out development in the countryside,” he said.
Ejercito said the budget cuts will also endanger the country’s image before the international community, as well as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s thrust towards railway development which would pave way for the “growth triangles” that cover airports, seaports, and economic centers in the country.
Most of the country’s railway projects are funded by international partners, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The national government is expected to fund the right of way acquisition of land for railway facilities and the value added tax that will be incurred by the projects.
“More importantly, the delay in the completion of our railway projects because of lack of government support will also bring a lack of confidence from investors. It will paint a bad picture in the international community, while the President is trying hard to sell the country, that we are already open for business. The government should do its part,” Ejercito said. (PNA)