THE long-overdue Mindanao Railway Project is seen to be put again into a standstill.

This, after the P13.5 million 2010 budget for the project has yet to be released by the National Government.

Ibra G. Macapandon, chief of the administration and finance department of the Project Management Office (PMO), said if the budget would not be released soon, they would be forced to vacate their office in Barangay Bulua this month since they could no longer pay the rent.

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"We are appealing to President Benigno Aquino III to release the funding for this year for us not to shut down our operation," Macapandon said.

He admitted that the change of administration has caused a little "hindrance" to the railway project after this year's budget has not yet approved by the present administration.

The P13.5 million 2010 budget, according to Macapandon, is intended for the personal services of the PMO's 12 engineers and for the travel expenses of those who would be doing field works.

"I am hopeful that the good president would hear our plea to release the budget for the project to be realized. But while waiting for the budget's approval, our service will now be in a voluntary basis," he said.

Feasibility studies for the Mindanao Railway Project started in 2003 and if negotiations would push through this year, Macapandon said civil works would start next year.

The project is expected to cut off travel time within different cities in Mindanao by at least 50 percent.

Macapandon said investors are expected to pour in P66.5 billion for the project.