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JICA ‘not ready yet’ to fund Mindanao Railway

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Central Mindanao Newswatch - local newspaper

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 Nov)—A Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) official said they are “not ready yet” to fund Mindanao Railway’s construction

“Actually, to be frank, we have a lot of projects in the entire Philippines, now because we are supporting the construction of the Manila subway and North–South Commuter Railway (NSCR) and so on,” JICA Philippines’ Chief Representative Takema Sakamoto said in a press conference Friday last week.

“Comparing with preparedness, actually we do not have any background information about Mindanao railway so preparedness-wise we are not ready to consider the railway project,” he added.

Notably, the Philippine government stopped seeking funding assistance from China for the construction of the Mindanao Railway, the Department of Finance (DOF) told the Chinese Embassy in Manila last October.

DOF stated in a letter to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian dated September 22, 2023, that the Philippines is “no longer inclined to pursue Chinese ODA financing for the Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1 Tagum-Davao-Digos Segment.”

The cause for the loan application’s withdrawal was not stated in the letter.

However, the JICA official said their “door is open” should the Philippine government be strongly interested in seeking funds from them for the construction of the Mindanao Railway.

“The door is open if the [Department of Transportation], [National Economic and Development Authority], and DOF may have a strong interest in discussing the possibility of this future [railway project continuation],” Sakamoto said.

Meanwhile, NEDA-Davao regional director Maria Lourdes Lim said the Mindanao railway project is seeking to look for other partners to continue the project.

“We have the Mindanao railway project, the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment, this is phase 1 of the railway project earlier, its current status is the right-of-way acquisition funded by the Philippine government,” Lim said.

The Mindanao Railway Project: Tagum-Davao-Digos, which is valued at P83 billion, is seen to reduce the travel time from Tagum City in Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur from three and a half hours to an hour and a half. (Ian Carl Espinosa / MindaNews)

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