February 24, 2024

DBM assures full support on mass transport projects in Mindanao

DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Mina F. Pangandaman conveyed the DBM’s full support on the mass transport infrastructure projects spearheaded by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), as she joined President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PBBM) at the DOTr’s 125th Founding Anniversary celebration and signing ceremony of four Civil Works Contracts for the implementation of the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project (DPTMP)  in Davao City yesterday, 7 February 2024.

Secretary Mina said that the DBM shall strive to help DOTr in order to ensure the realization of its projects in Mindanao, especially the DPTMP, which has been stalled due to lack of funding.

“As a Maranao and a daughter of Mindanao, I pledge my wholehearted support in ensuring that all projects and programs geared towards Mindanao development will be realized,” Secretary Mina said. 

“The DPTMP is a game-changing project that will transform the public transport landscape here in Davao and its nearby areas. It forms part of our whole-of-government approach to turn Mindanao from a land of promise into a land of promises fulfilled. Thus, in response to the call of our beloved President, the DBM commits to exert all the necessary help and efforts to pull this project to the finish line,” Secretary Pangandaman said. 

In his speech, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said the DPTMP is a testament to his administration’s commitment to providing commuters with a “safe, reliable, and efficient” mass transportation system, and shall likewise give Davao City “a modern future with certainty.”

“Once completed… this project will become the template for public transport systems in other cities in our country,” the President said.

“This is more than just the Ceremonial Signing for the Civil Works of Contracts for the DPTMP. It is a strong reaffirmation of our commitment to develop the Davao Region. It is a demonstration of our resolve to deliver what people in all regions deserve: a mass transportation system that can move commuters and commerce efficiently,” the President added.

Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista expressed his gratitude towards the Asian Development Bank for “assisting the national government and the Davao local government” in funding the DPTMP and shared his hopes that the project will mark the beginning of the “metamorphosis of public transport in the whole of Mindanao”.  

The DPTMP is a 672-kilometer bus route network serving 29 interconnected routes with 400 articulated battery electric buses and more than 500 diesel buses.

According to DOTr, partial operation of the DPTMP shall commence in the fourth quarter of 2025, while its full operation is expected in 2026.

Also present at the signing ceremony were Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., and other key government officials and representatives.

*Mindanao development not just a part, but a priority of the BBM administration*

To ensure comfortable, reliable, safe and convenient transportation in Mindanao, the DOTr assured that it is pursuing the Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) which aims to improve mobility and connectivity in the entire island. 

In his speech at the signing of the civil works contracts for DPTMP, President BBM ordered the Department of Finance (DOF) and the DOTr to find a funding source for the MRP. 

“The same sensitivity to emerging trends, and best practices should define our pivot to commuter and commuter-friendly transit systems. And that is why I am ordering the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Finance to work in tandem to explore financing sources for the 103-kilometer Tagum-Davao-Digos railway,” the President said.

“This ambitious project has been stalled by lack of funding, so let us go and hunt for the right funding engine that will pull this project to the finish line… Financing railway models can be creatively packaged in a hybrid way: with each component of the project undertaken, underwritten by different stakeholders,” President  BBM added.  

For her part, Secretary Mina Pangandaman expressed her appreciation to PBBM for directing the concerned agencies to cooperate in ensuring adequate funds for the completion of this much-needed and long overdue project.

“I believe that the Mindanao Railway Project must really push through. There is no better time to push it than now. The prioritization of this project translates to the prioritization of Mindanao. Patunay po ito na sa administrasyon ni Pangulong Bongbong Marcos, hindi lang po kasali kundi prayoridad ang Mindanao,” Secretary Mina said. 

Once completed,  the Mindanao railway project will connect Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Cotabato, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, and Malaybalay in. Bukidnon. Phase 1 (Tagum-Davao-Digos) alone soams over a hundred kilometers long, with eight stations, and is expected to serve 122,000 passengers daily

The transport agency has also partnered with the Mindanao State University (MSU) General Santos City to conduct research on land transport in SOCCKSKSARGEN, aiming to improve the modernization of public utility vehicles in the region.

Further, to elevate inter-island connectivity in Mindanao, and boost local tourism and the economy, the DOTr has lined up several airport projects in Mindanao. This includes the expansion of the Laguindingan Airport, which received an unsolicited proposal for its improvements, airports in Bukidnon and Zamboanga for modernization, and completed airport upgrades in General Santos and Dipolog. 

Meanwhile, the DOTr also urged maritime agencies and stakeholders to align their efforts with the Maritime Industry Development Plan 2028– the road map that shall contribute to efforts in combating climate change and preserving biodiversity. It focuses on the construction and upgrade of social tourism ports, modernization of the Philippine Coast Guard, lowering logistics costs and streamlining processes, and providing world-class maritime education for Filipino seafarers.