Solons seek to extend the corporate life of the PNR

REP. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga) and her son, Rep. Diosdado “Dato” M. Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur) are seeking to extend the life of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) for a period of 25 years.

The lawmakers said House Bill 6717 seeks to amend Section 1 of Republic Act 4156 otherwise known as “An Act Creating the Philippine National Railways, Prescribing Its Powers, Functions And Duties, And Providing For The Necessary Funds For Its Operation, As Amended by Republic Act No. 6366.”

Mrs. Arroyo said the PNR is a state-owned company and an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) which presently operates a commuter rail service in Metro Manila and the Bicol region through the Bicol Express (South Rail). It runs on a daily basis between Manila and Naga City, which is considered the heart of Bicol.

“For almost six decades, the PNR provided dependable, reliable and reasonably affordable fares in transporting people and goods. This made the PNR a strategic backbone and an impetus of economic activity between Metro Manila and the Bicol region,” the former President said.

The younger Arroyo said PNR ceased operation in 1993 after several calamities hit the country particularly in the Southern Luzon area.

“There have been efforts to restore the PNR to its former glory until 2009, when partial rehabilitation was implemented and the first train to traverse the South Rail once again resumed operation,” he said.

Dato Arroyo said the on-going rehabilitation and modernization of PNR lines and stations face an uphill climb since the PNR Charter is set to expire in 2013.

“It not renewed and extended, PNR will cease to operate and further deprive the Bicol region of a cheap form of transportation, the South Rail being an indispensable ingredient in sustaining trade and industry in this part of the country. Furthermore, it will be detrimental for the country if one major source of mass transportation is discontinued,” he stressed.

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