A lawmaker on Monday strongly backed the plan by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to issue an executive order (EO) that would fast track the processing of licenses, permits, and other requirements for infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs).
Bicol Saro Party-List Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan said this is a significant step in minimizing costs and ensuring the success of the Build Better More (BBM) program.
Yamsuan said the issuance by the President of this directive would help expedite the implementation of the project to revive the Bicol Express, the once-famed Philippine National Railways (PNR) line that ran from Manila to Bicol.
The revival of the Bicol Express, or the South Long Haul Project, is among the infrastructure projects that the President has committed to implementing as part of his administration’s BBM program.
“Among the foreseen issues in the revival of the Bicol Express is the long process of securing permits, clearances, licenses, and other documentary requirements to get the project going. The soon-to-be issued EO by the President will certainly streamline all these once-tedious processes and shorten the timeline for the completion of the Bicol Express,” Yamsuan said.
He recalled that during the previous administration, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) had cited the long permit application process that contractors had to undergo as among the causes of delays in the implementation of infrastructure projects.
Yamsuan has long been pushing for the revival and modernization of the Bicol Express.
He said the rail line would not only provide commuters with an affordable, safe, and comfortable travel option but would also help transform Bicol into the fastest-growing economy among the country’s regions.
“The Bicol Express was Southeast Asia’s oldest train service. Its rebirth has long been awaited by Bicolanos, who long for the day when the Bicol Express would again provide them with more access to employment and educational opportunities,” Yamsuan said.
Yamsuan has proposed that the government adopt the public-private partnership (PPP) mode in implementing the project.
Last week, Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) confirmed that the Neda Board, which is chaired by the President, has approved the issuance of an EO that would expedite the processing of permits and other documentary requirements for the Marcos Jr. administration’s IFPs.
Balisacan said the EO would require all government offices, agencies, and instrumentalities, including the local government units (LGUs), to streamline the standard procedures and requirements for IFPs. The simplified requirements will be applicable to both pending and new applications within the Neda Board-approved list of IFPs, as well as any additions to the updated IFP list, Balisacan said.
The EO also encourages a whole-of-government approach by directing national government agencies and urging LGUs to automate and computerize their databases, Balisacan said.
According to Balisacan, this would promote data sharing among government agencies in order to eliminate the unnecessary duplication of document submissions and would facilitate the electronic submission of applications to the concerned agencies and LGUs, including the payments and issuance of receipts.