PRESIDENTIAL candidate Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. on Monday admitted that there is a need to improve the transportation system in the Bicol Region and it is going to be one of his priority projects when he wins the May 9, 2022 elections.
“Madalas nating marinig noon ang salitang ‘Bicol Express’ patungkol sa mga tren na bumibyahe sa rehiyon. Sa paglipas ng panahon ay naging palasak na lang ang katagang ito na tumutukoy sa pangunahing sistema ng transportasyon na ngayon ay bilang isang masarap na pagkain ng mga Bicolano,” Marcos said.
“Ibabalik natin ang ‘Bicol Express’ ng higit na maayos at epektibo sa panahon ng ating panunungkulan,” Marcos assured the Bicolanos.
The Philippine National Railways (PNR), a government-owned company, was established in 1875 as the Ferrocaril de Manila-Dagupan and plied its initial route to Pangasinan.
Seven years later, the railroad linking Dagupan and Legazpi was created and it became popular to travelers because it was cheaper than an airplane but way much faster than a car.
In 1931, the Manila-to-Bicol route, which was popularly known as ‘Bicol Express,’ started.
However, the Bicol Express slowly deteriorated in the 70s due to security issues, the proliferation of air-conditioned buses, calamities, and finally the Mayon Volcano explosion in 1993.
In 2006, the railways were badly damaged after the onslaught of typhoons Milenyo and Reming, which finally led to the suspension of the Bicol-Manila route.
After a massive rehabilitation, the Bicol Express came back to life in 2011, but the endearing title has now become synonymous with the region’s popular dish.
“Hindi naman siguro tayo nakakalimot na ang tren na biyaheng Bicol ay hindi lang nagbigay ng malaking kaginhawaan kundi nagdulot din ito ng malalim na kasiyahan sa ating mga kababayang Bikolano. Ibalik natin ito pero mas pagandahin pa natin at pabilisin upang magsilbing pangunahing transportasyon ng mga Bicolano at mga dayuhang turista na naaakit sa ganda ng bayang ito,” Marcos said.
He added that the improvement of the railway system will be aligned with his continuity of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Build-Build-Build program but he will also be open to talks with big companies who are willing to finance its rehabilitation via the Public-Private Partnership program.
“Ang kailangan natin ay maging agresibo sa pagsusulong ng mga proyektong makakapaghatid ng maayos na serbisyo sa ating mga mamamayan. Isa lamang ito sa mga layunin natin upang iangat ang Bicolandia matapos ang mapamuksang pandemya,” Marcos stressed.| –pr