Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nueva Ecija solon files house bill creating the Central Luzon railways body

SAN JOSE CITY, Nueva Ecija, August 17, 2011-To ensure faster and safer transport service and accelerate trade and commerce in the region and all provinces in northern Luzon, Second district Congressman Joseph Gilbert F. Violago filed House Bill 5062, entitled “An Act Creating the Central Luzon Railways Corporation” whose main office is in this city and with branch offices in Tarlac City and Angeles City.

The proposed creation of a railways corporation in Central Luzon seeks the construction of a two-phased railway networks encompassing the region within a 10-year period. Phase 1 covers this city, Science City of Muñoz and Guimba town, Victoria town and Tarlac city while Phase 2 will pass through Tarlac City to Capas to its last station at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

“The corporation will own and operate the railway system, tramlines and other forms of land transportation, vessels and pipelines for transporting passengers, mails and property from San Jose City to Tarlac up to Clark,” Violago said.

The firm will have an authorized capital stock of P1 billion divided into P10 million shares at par value of P100 which will be fully subscribed by the national government. Some 40 percent of the P1 billion or P400 million will be initially paid-up and the balance will be paid from a continuing annual appropriation of not less than P200 million.

Under the measure, the allocation of five percent of the proceeds from the value-added tax for 10 years for its future expansion covering the provinces of Bataan, Bulacan and Zambales which will be administered by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC); however, the corporation will not be subject to the authority and supervision of the Land Transportation Office and the Philippine National Railways.           

Under the bill’s explanatory note, it observed that the PNP used to operate a 479-kilometer railway system from La Union up to the Bicol Region with its North Main Line serving the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and La Union and Batangas on the South Main Line. However, due to neglect and mismanagement, this was drastically reduced and buses became the most favored mode of mass transport.

He noted that the Northrail project will partly replace the North Main Line but due to numerous legal, technical and administrative problems, and anomalies, a cloud of doubt hangs on the project.

In pushing for a railways corporation for the region, Violago said that the system may utilize either the McArthur Highway in the western side or the Maharlika Highway, also known as the Pan-Philippine Highway in the eastern side where no goods or passengers reach Manila without having to pass either route.

“Just imagine its potentials when connecting trains from Pangasinan leading to La Union will link up with this proposed railway system to complete an ideal rail transport network that would usher industrialization and agricultural boom,” Violago said.

“With a simultaneous rehabilitation and revitalization of the Bicol railway network, the country would have achieved an integrated modern and efficient railway leading to all of Luzon’s airports and seaports, carrying thousands of people and goods daily with Central Luzon serving as the primary dynamo and model,” he added.

Violago furthered that one-stop central depots for grains and other agricultural products could also be developed in Tarlac City, San Jose City and Clark which will considerably reduce the cost of transporting goods to Manila and ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila. (Jason de Asis)

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