QUEZON CITY—In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned a promise that traffic-suffering residents of Davao and Cebu will likely welcome.
He promised to push for mass transit systems in both metropolises, along with other rail projects for Metro Manila, Luzon and Mindanao.
In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the proposed rail project for Cebu will be in addition to the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
Pernia explained that the BRT project is just a short-term project, which will take less time to implement but will require other, complementary solutions like a rail line.
“Cebu is very traffic already,” said Pernia, who has experienced road congestion in Cebu first-hand.
In his SONA, President Duterte said: “We shall pursue rail projects in Manila and the major key points in the country. Hindi ako nagyayabang pero totoo talaga ito (I am not bragging; this is for real). Six years lalabas talaga ito (This will get done). I assure you because it is going to materialize. Rail projects like the Davao transit system, the Cebu transit system.”
What’s already in the pipeline for Cebu is the P10.6-billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Cebu City. The 16-kilometer project, which will run from Bulacao to Talamban, is among the projects approved by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2014.
Proponents had earlier eyed to start its implementation within the year, after the detailed engineering design is completed.
Interviewed separately, Cebu Provincial Board Member Sun Shimura also pointed out the promised transportation projects for Cebu and Davao.
“As a fellow government official, I am looking forward to this because this was a promise that the Aquino administration never had. So when President Duterte mentioned the LRT in Cebu and other provinces, hopefully it will be achieved. I wasn’t able to watch the beginning of his speech. But I think he failed to mention about the extension of government hospitals,” Shimura added.
Pernia said the proposed Cebu Transit System will address not only the traffic problems in Cebu City, but as well as other areas in Metro Cebu.
“We were the ones who put the plans together with the president. He (Duterte) has the will to implement and to get things done,” Pernia said.
The pledge elated several Cebu legislators.
In an interview after the SONA, Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar said he was happy that the president mentioned his plan for Cebu.
“We welcome that. I was very happy to hear that because he mentioned Mindanao first and I was hoping that he would also mention Cebu, which he did. He mentioned us. We can expect that we will not be forgotten,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
“We need to create additional road access like skyways up and subways down, and together with the (road) widening is the rail. It has to go together,” he added.
Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa said he will help follow up on the projects that the president promised for Cebu.
“That’s a very welcome development that President Duterte is willing to pour national government resources and efforts into this mode of transport,” he said.
For former Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, the Cebu Transit System would be a big help for the city.
Rama, who was among those who attended the SONA, said Cebu needs mass transport to address its traffic. “We were so happy hearing that because it’s a good thing for Cebu,” he added.