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Freeman Region

NEDA-6 head says Panay Railways revival a “pleasant surprise”

The Freeman

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, ANTIQUE, Philippines — National Economic and Development Authority-6 Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal said she was pleasantly surprised on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s inclusion of the Panay Railways as among his administration’s priorities under the nationwide railway program.

Bacal said that for a long time already they no longer know what to do with the Panay Railways although there were feasibility studies and proposals for its revival. The railways used to operate from Iloilo City to Capiz Province before it stopped operations in 1983.

“We are happy that it’s been included in the president’s priorities,” Bacal said. She said the feasibility study they have now at NEDA-6 needs to be updated though.

It covers the railway revival from Iloilo City to Capiz to Aklan where the premier tourist destination for the region Boracay island is located. A Korean group was then interested to go into a private-public partnership (PPP) for the project

Besides being not identified as priority project before, the right of way of Panay Railways has now been occupied by squatters who need to be relocated.

In 2013, there were some 130 households at Barangay Railway in La Paz district, Iloilo City who had expressed objection over the proposed rehabilitation of the railway because of the mass eviction that would result from it.

Bacal, however, said these squatters built at their own risks for they already know at the very beginning that it’s the property of the Panay Railway Incorporated (PRI) where they are establishing their houses on.

“There will be a parallel program that will take care of those affected by the project,” the NEDA director then assured. —From the wires

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