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Monday, January 21, 2019

Osmeña reluctantly backs railway project as long as CH won’t subsidize it

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and former mayor Michael Rama won’t challenge the plan to implement a railway system in Cebu.

Osmeña said he is not going to argue anymore if the National Government wants it in place here.

“Who am I to challenge the President as long as we don’t have to pay for it. Kung grasya, grasya di ba? Who are we to reject?” he told reporters, in a news conference yesterday.

The railway system for Cebu is one of the projects President Rodrigo Duterte wants to implement during his administration. He disclosed this during his State of the Nation Address.

Non-earner

But Osmeña said a railway system is expensive to operate.

The railway system in Manila, he said, costs about P8 billion to operate and its revenues is less than P3 billion annually.

“If the Philippine government can subsidize and give us around P6 billion a year, who are we to complain? But we have to pay for that. You cannot pay for that because that is our full annual budget already,” he said.

Because of the huge amount needed for it to operate, Osmeña said a railway system cannot have many distribution points unlike the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

The mayor went on to question where the railway system will be constructed.

“If Cebu City and whole Cebu only live in one road, like here to Danao, that’s very nice. That’s perfect. LRT (Light Railway Transit) gyud all the way. But if you want to go to Barangays Talamban, Guadalupe, Quiot, that is not part of the one road… I studied it before and it doesn’t make sense. It looks nice but where will you put it,” he added.

In the middle of his discussion, Osmeña stopped and said: “I am not going to argue anymore. If they want it, get it basta as long as we don’t have to pay for it.”

The mayor, though, hopes the National Government will continue with the implementation of the P10.6-billion BRT.

“It is there already. I hope it continues. If not, we are doomed,” he said.

Rama’s view

Osmeña said the BRT can complement the railway system, adding that the former can adjust to anything.

Rama, for his part, also supports the railway system.

In a separate news conference he called yesterday, he said the railway system will serve as a new feature of Cebu.

However, he wants the project not to jeopardize Cebu’s historical and heritage sites.

Asked where he’d want the project to be implemented, Rama said he prefers not to dictate.

If the National Government will start initial works for the project, the former mayor said he, along with Team Rama members, wants to be briefed about it through Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, whom he described as “a friend of Cebuanos.”

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