If they get elected in higher office next year, the 2016 electoral tandem of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano will push for the completion of the Mindanao Railway System, which, if constructed, would connect all food producing provinces in the region and ensure a more efficient and low-cost transport of food commodities throughout the country.
This is what the senator said during a consultative meeting with lacatan banana farmers based in Kidapawan City. Cayetano was in the city on Wednesday to attend a Federalism Forum organized by Hugpong Pederal, a movement that is backing Mayor Duterte’s proposal for a federal form of government in the Philippines.
The farmers complained that their products are being damaged due to the lack of a proper transport and shipping system in the region.
Cayetano said that establishing a railway system in Mindanao will particularly make it easier for farmers to transfer food commodities from agricultural areas like North Cotabato to the ports of Davao, General Santos, and Cagayan de Oro. Landlocked agricultural areas with no access to ports or cargo-loading airports will greatly benefit from the project, he added.
The vice-presidental hopeful assured that the 200-kilometer railway system will be among the priorities of a Duterte-Cayetano government, stressing that the P75-billion project will ensure low-cost food supply not only for Mindanaoans, but for the entire country as well.
Cayetano stressed that despite the strategic importance of a Mindanao Railway System, the national government continued to exclude it from its development plan.
“Enough with our NCR-centric approach in tackling economic development. Surely, if the national government can fund the construction of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) in Metro Manila, which costs P50-billion worth of the public’s money, it can also do the same for Mindanao’s long cherised dream of a railway system,”Cayetano said.
The senator asserted that it’s time to end the systemic neglect and injustice committed to the people of Mindanao.
“Ang Pilipinas ay hindi lamang ang Maynila. Ang kaunlaran ay hindi lamang para sa iilan. Now is the time to create real changes in the country. If we want economic growth to be really inclusive, we need to spur development in the countryside, particularly in Mindanao,” Cayetano said./Office of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano