THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) said on Tuesday that it is still seeking out funding partners to develop three railway projects initially set to be financed by Chinese loans.
“We are exploring other development partners for each of these three projects so that we have an alternative considering that we were not able to get financing from the Chinese side on these three rail projects,” DoTr undersecretary Timothy John R. Batan told a joint congressional hearing looking into delays in projects funded by official development assistance (ODA).
The Philippines withdrew its request for ODA from China for the three railway projects due to a lack of progress on the financing decision.
Transport Secretary Jamie J. Bautista has said the government might tap ODA from Japan, South Korea, or India to fund the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long-Haul line, the Mindanao Railway, and the Subic-Clark Railway — to replace Chinese funding.
Despite delays in funding, Mr. Bautista has said the DoTr expects to complete these railway projects by the end of 2028.
Mr. Batan noted that the delayed Chinese loans are worth about $1.7 billion. The DoTr has an ongoing P10-billion loan for a consultancy contract for the P142-billion South Long-Haul project.
The DoTr said last month the government will wait until the end of December for the Chinese government to decide on approving the loan for the South Long-Haul line.
“Since we already have one loan with China for the South Long-Haul, the direction is to give a little more time to China to act on and approve our loan application,” Mr. Batan said.
In February 2022, the previous administration awarded to China Railway Design Corp. a contract to construct the PNR project. State-owned Export-Import Bank of China has not confirmed whether it will approve the loan request.
The project consists of a 560-kilometer rail line that will connect Metro Manila to Southern Luzon.
At the same hearing, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also urged Congress to pass measures addressing right-of-way issues in foreign-assisted projects and a cash-based budgeting system to fast-track project implementation.
NEDA Assistant Secretary Roderick M. Planta said delays were also marked by bid failures. — John Victor D. Ordoñez