Davao won’t negotiate for railway RROW

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 30 January) – Negotiating for the road right of way (RROW) for phase 1 of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project is not the job of the local government unit, an incensed Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte told the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

In an interview on Tuesday, Duterte said this explains why she did not sign the memorandum of agreement with the DOTr in December 2018 for the transfer of funds as the “acquisition of the road right of way of a national project is not the job of the LGU.”

“I refused to accept that responsibility, kasi dapat iniisip nila yan on their part kasi that is their project. So, bakit kami tatanggap ng pera para gawin ang trabaho nila? (they should also think that on their part because that is their project. Why should we accept the money to do their job?),” she said.

National Economic Development Authority 11 director Maria Lourdes Lim said Tagum City, Panabo City, Carmen town in Davao del Norte and Sta. Cruz town and Digos City in Davao del Sur have already forged an agreement with DOTr.

The funds allotted for the road right of way and site acquisition amounted to P6 billion in the General Appropriations Act of 2018.

Phase 1 or the Tagum City-Davao City-Digos City line would have eight stations, namely: Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang in Bunawan, Davao City, Davao Terminal, Toril, Sta. Cruz and Digos.

Second District Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang said in an interview that the city council of Davao has already endorsed the project for implementation.

He added they are just waiting for DOTr to come back and explain to them the technical aspect of the project, particularly the final alignment of the railway.

He said the city has a strong reservation about accepting the funds and the responsibility of negotiating with landowners.

“We are not turning down, we will support it. We don’t want to hold the money because that money is billions of pesos… Once you are holding the funds coming from the national government, it becomes controversial. We will let the national government handle it,” he said.

He added it would be better if the national government would take the lead in the negotiation for RROW acquisition.

He said the city council will approve the project once the issues on property acquisition is clarified, citing the 1991 Local Government Code which requires that all national government projects must have approval from the local government.

He added they hope DOTr will hold close consultations with would-be affected property owners. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)