Bicol Saro Partylist Representative Brian Raymund Yamsuan has proposed that the revival of the Philippine National Railways’ (PNR) Bicol Express rail line be included in the list of 80 high-impact infrastructure projects that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has identified for financing through the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).
Yamsuan said the reconstruction of the Bicol Express into a modern railway system would provide the Bicol Region and the rest of South Luzon the momentum it needs to speed up its economic expansion.
The revival of the Bicol Express, or the South Long Haul Project, fits the President’s criteria for MIF financing of providing “high rates of return and significant social and economic impact” for its beneficiaries, Yamsuan said.
Yamsuan said the project is also in sync with the MIF’s priority investment thrusts which include tourism infrastructure as outlined recently by newly appointed Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC) president and chief executive officer Rafael Jose Consing Jr.
“We are hopeful that the President would include the revival of the Bicol Express in the list of 80 infrastructure projects that would be given an additional mode of financing through the Maharlika Investment Fund. The renaissance of the Bicol Express, which used to run from Manila to Albay, is a high-impact project that would greatly benefit the people of Bicol and the rest of South Luzon,” Yamsuan said.
“Reviving this once-glorious rail line would boost South Luzon’s economic growth, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and livelihood opportunities, and reenergize Bicol’s tourism industry,” added Yamsuan.
In his closing keynote address at the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) held in San Francisco, California last week, President Marcos told potential investors that about 80 infrastructure projects have been identified as “financeable” through the MIF.
These projects offer “high rates of return and significant social and economic impact,” according to the President.
During the PEB, the President has also committed to increase the productivity of Filipino workers by providing them an efficient, and cheap transport system.
Yamsuan said he hopes this commitment by the President would ensure that the revival of the Bicol Express into a modern railway system would take into account its affordability to many Filipinos once it is operational.
“Transforming the Bicol Express into a fast, efficient and modern mode of transport should be affordable to workers, students and other daily commuters. The goal of reviving the rail line should be two-pronged—it should be a modern, safe, fast and comfortable way of traveling to and from Bicol, and at the same time, affordable to many Filipinos,” Yamsuan said.
Yamsuan is pushing for the implementation of Phase 1 of the DOTr’s South Long Haul project, which involves the reconstruction of the Bicol Express line from Banlic in Laguna to Daraga in Albay.
In a recent privilege speech, Yamsuan called on his colleagues in Congress to support the Bicol Express project as a testament to their commitment to champion development strategies that broaden access to opportunities and resources for all Filipinos.
Reviving the Bicol Express “will serve not only as an economic driver, but as a powerful engine that would bridge communities and realize dreams, while safeguarding the heritage of the Bicolanos,” Yamsuan said.
Yamsuan highlighted the benefits and opportunities that the project would deliver for the people of Bicol and nearby regions.
These include providing commuters with a fast, safe, affordable, and comfortable mode of transport going to and from Bicol; accelerating economic growth and creating more jobs and livelihood opportunities in the region; boosting tourism; and reducing the country’s carbon footprint.