By Billy Begas
The P5.268 trillion national budget for 2023 does not include funds for the Mindanao railway project.
During the budget deliberation, House Deputy Minority Leader and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman inquired about the big jump in the budget for railway projects.
Hataman noted that from P23.1 billion in 2022, the budget for railway projects increased to P113.9 billion, or more than a P90 billion increase.
House Committee on Appropriations Senior vice chairperson and Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said around P500 billion was allocated for the railway sector but only P113 billion was part of the programmed funds.
“Actually, Mr. Speaker yung P112 (113) na yan is just one component of the railway project. The bigger component is P389 billion is in unprogrammed appropriations. Naging unprogrammed appropriations po siya dahil ang fund source po nito ay utang. So as soon as magkaroon tayo ng proceeds from that loan ay magiging programmed na rin siya,” Quimbo explained.
Quimbo said the funds included in the programmed fund is the amount that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) can utilize in 2023.
“Kung ano po yung naka-include sa NEP (national expenditure program) 2023 ito po yung in-assess ng DOTr na mako-complete nila within one year.” Quimbo said.
In response to Hataman, Quimbo said the budget is for six railway projects.
“Kasama ba ho dito yung Mindanao railway?” asked Hataman.
Quimbo replied, “Hindi po Mr. Speaker.”
Hataman made a clarification, “Ibig sabihin yung Mindanao railway hindi na po natin pinondohan?”
Quimbo replied, “Hindi pa po.”
Hataman then asked for the reason behind the non-inclusion in the budget.
Quimbo replied, “Sa ngayon po ito ay undergoing redesign.”
The 102-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project: Tagum-Davao-Digos (MRP-TDD) segment is expected to reduce travel time from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours.