A JAPAN International Cooperation Agency (Jica) official expressed openness to discussions if the Philippine government signifies strong interest in seeking funds from Jica for the construction of the Mindanao Railway.
Jica Philippines' Chief Representative Takema Sakamoto, in a press conference on November 9, said that their "door is open" for potential talks regarding the railway project's continuation.
The Philippine government had ceased seeking funding assistance from China for the Mindanao Railway, as conveyed in a letter from the Department of Finance (DOF) to the Chinese Embassy in Manila on September 22, 2023.
The letter, addressed to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian, stated that the Philippines is no longer inclined to pursue Chinese Official Development Assistance (ODA) financing for the Mindanao Railway Project Phase 1 Tagum-Davao-Digos Segment.
The reason for the withdrawal of the loan application was not specified.
However, Sakamoto mentioned that Jica is currently not prepared to fund the railway project.
He explained that they have ongoing projects nationwide, such as supporting the construction of the Manila subway and North–South Commuter Railway (NSCR), and lack background information about the Mindanao railway, leading to unpreparedness in considering the project.
“Comparing with preparedness, actually we do not have any background information about Mindanao railway so preparedness-wise we are not ready to consider the railway project,” he added.
Neda-Davao Regional Director Maria Lourdes Lim mentioned that the Mindanao railway project is exploring alternative partners for its continuation.
“We have the Mindanao railway project, the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment, this is the phase 1 of the railway project earlier, its current status is the right of way acquisition is funded by the Philippine government,” Lim said.
The Mindanao Railway Project: Tagum-Davao-Digos, valued at P83 billion, aims to reduce travel time from Tagum City in Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur, from three and a half hours to an hour and a half once operational. ICE with reports from Sunnex