Malacañang has called on Congress to extend the life of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) whose corporate tenure ends in June.
Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office noted that the PNR was fundamental in transportation of people and goods, benefiting those from the Bicol Region in South Luzon to the Ilocos Region in North Luzon.
“We know that Congress is ready to take action on PNR whose corporate life is about to end. PNR needs a new life. PNR has recently upgraded its facilities, mainly their trains, resulting in more people riding the PNR,” Coloma told Radyo ng Bayan.
“I do not see Congress cutting PNR services. I am sure that they will be able to craft ways to maintain PNR’s uninterrupted services,” he added.
But for Rep. Alfrancis Bichara of Albay, the PNR should be privatized so that it can undergo maximum rehabilitation, upgrade and efficient maintenance.
Bichara made the proposal through House Bill 4135 and noted that the government has failed to maximize the utilization of its railway system mainly for lack of funds.
“Imagine if our PNR trains are upgraded and well maintained, commuters and cargo can be transported faster. Time saved translates to productivity, while agricultural production by the bulk can easily be brought from the rural areas to the urban centers both for local con–sumption as well as export,” the solon pointed out.
The PNR’s substandard quality, Bichara added, also hampers the country’s export potential since there are not enough good trains to move perishable agricultural products.
Under his proposal, the PNR will be sold through public auction after publication of at least twice a week for three weeks in a newspaper of general circulation and after a selection process made by the Privati–zation Council created under Executive Order 323.
The transfer shall take effect through the execution of a deed of assignment by the government agency in charge of PNR in favor of the highest bidder.
The payment for the license to operate the PNR may be made in installments and a security bond is executed.