Palace created Right-of-Way committee for railway projects

Malacanang has created an inter-agency committee tasked to oversee the right-of-way (ROW) activities for the country’s railway projects to expedite the process of land acquisition needed for their implementation.

Under Administrative Order (AO) 19 signed on March 25 by President Marcos, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary will serve as the chairperson of the inter-agency committee, with the Secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development as co-chairman.

To serve as members of the committee are key officials of the Departments of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Finance (DoF), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Budget and Management (DBM),  Justice (DoJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

The Philippine National Railway (PNR) serves as the Secretariat of the Committee, and is tasked to provide administrative and technical support to the body.

AO 19 also stipulates that “the Inter-Agency Committee for ROW Activities for National Railway Projects is hereby created to study and devise an efficient and collaborative mechanism to streamline the process of land acquisition necessary for the implementation of all railway projects.”

The committee is mandated to coordinate the implementation of railway policies and projects, as well as craft and approve project-specific policies and programs. It is also directed to identify the appropriate services or programs concerning land acquisition and other ROW activities, such as livelihood, income restoration, and resettlement.

AO 19 likewise designates the committee to identify effective existing policies, agreements, contracts, and other similar arrangements between and among government agencies. The body is also authorized “to consolidate and mobilize agency resources to streamline budgeting; deliberate and resolve issues or grievances; and create technical working groups to implement AO 19.”

Republic Act (RA) 10752 or the Right-of-Way Act authorizes the government to acquire real property needed as ROW site or location for any national government infrastructure project through donation, negotiated sale, expropriation, or any other mode of acquisition.

Under the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 and 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda, the Marcos administration aims to improve the Philippine transportation sector by providing sustainable and affordable transportation options that will link communities to economic, social and cultural centers.

The Metro Manila Subway Project, North-South Commuter Railway System, Mindanao Railway Project, and PNR South Long Haul are among the current administration’s priority infrastructure projects in the transportation sector to boost mobility, enhance connectivity and promote growth centers outside the urban-industrial region.