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Duterte creates Philippine Railways Institute

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte created a research and training center for personnel operating railways in a bid to improve the safety and efficiency of land transportation in the country.

Called the Philippine Railways Institute (PRI), it was created through Executive Order No 96, signed by Duterte on November 21. A copy was made public on Thursday, November 28.

The PRI, said the EO, would be the "planning, implementing, regulating and administrative entity for the development of human resources in the railway sector."

It must help ensure "efficient, reliable, and safe railway transportation services."

Its mandate includes developing regulations and guidelines to train personnel in promoting safety in train operations. It will also accredit or attest to the competence of railways personnel, including train drivers.

The PRI is given the power to collect "reasonable fees" for issuing certificates and accreditation, as well as other services.

President Duterte creates the Philippine Railway Institute to train personnel of railway systems. See executive order below. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/hHQjOyacy3 — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) November 28, 2019

The PRI will be lodged under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its funding will come from the department's annual budget. The institute is to be led by an executive director with the rank of undersecretary. The executive director must have at least a masters degree in a related field and experience in managing transportation capacity development programs.

The PRI is also allowed to receive funding and aid from private and public entities and foreign governments or institutions through the DOTr. However, any grant or donation from a foreign government must be approved by the President or their authorized representative.

Why does this matter? Frequent train breakdowns have been a constant source of frustration for Filipino commuters, especially in the crowded mega city of Metro Manila.

The creation of the PRI is an indication of the government's intention to invest in a better railways system for the country.

The EO states that the decision is in line with the Duterte government's "Ambisyon Natin 2040" (wrongly identified as "Ambisyon Nation 2040" in the EO) which has made the transportation sector a priority.

Duterte himself promised to build more railway lines back when he was a 2016 presidential candidate. One of his major promises was to construct a Mindanao Railway.

But in his government's new list of infrastructure and transportation projects, the Mindanao Railway Phase 2 project was taken out

Railway projects in the new list include the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 11 project and MRT7, which is currently under construction.

Commuters and think tanks have called for improved and a better-connected train network in Metro Manila and other parts of the country to ease traffic jams, improve commuter experience, and decongest urban centers. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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