Malaysian firm eyes $1 billion rail link from Diliman to Quiapo
A Malaysian firm is eyeing to build a $1-billion mass rail transport from Diliman, Quezon City to Quiapo, Manila, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Thursday.
In a press briefing in Malaysia where he accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte in his trip there, Lopez said the government is not involved in the project yet because it is a "private-to-private agreement" signed between Malaysian and Philippine companies, coinciding with Duterte's visit.
"From the way we understand, it is an unsolicited proposal although it’s aligned with the projects that the DOTr would like to have, the Department of Transport, would like to have. So it will have to go through the process," Lopez said.
"From what we were told earlier, there are at least two companies looking into building that project, they are starting off with a study and then a proposal that they will give to government," Lopez said.
It is not clear if the rail project being considered by the private companies is the East-West Rail Project, listed as a project of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center.
According to the PPP Center, this project, to be implemented by the Philippine National Railway, involves the construction, operation and maintenance of the East-West Rail, a mostly elevated 9.4-kilometer railway line from Diliman to Lerma, Manila. The project will have 11 stations and provide interconnecting facilities with neighboring rail systems. It aims to alleviate traffic congestion and encourage more productive activities.
Malaysian businessmen were also interested in a palm oil project in the Philippines, added Lopez.
"In agri business, there’s a potential palm oil project wherein the harvest and the output will go back to Malaysia as exports and for further processing into palm oil areas in Mindanao and Palawan," Lopez said.
Initially, the Malaysian companies were looking at 200 to 300 hectares of land, he said.
The trade chief said the government has identified close to one million hectares as possible plantation project for palm oil and natural rubber in Mindanao and Palawan.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya said Philippine companies have been increasingly investing in Malaysia.
"It may come as a surprise to our countrymen that the Philippines has invested more in Malaysia than the other way around," he said, citing Petron Corp. invested $610 million, resulting to over 600 Petron gasoline stations in Malaysia and an oil refinery.
He said more Filipinos are visiting Malaysia, citing that in 2015, 550,000 Filipino tourists went to Kuala Lumpur, while 150,000 Malaysians visited Manila.
Duterte is set to arrive in Davao City early Friday after ending his two-day official visit to Malaysia. Celerina Monte/DMS