Philippine Daily Inquirer, 16 December 2014
By Ben O. de Vera
MANILA, Philippines—Next year will see two “big” rail projects rolled out under the Aquino administration’s centerpiece public-private partnership initiative alongside the improvement of existing transportation systems.

PPP Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao told reporters Tuesday that the P176.7-billion North-South Commuter Railway and the P135-billion Mass Transit System Loop (MTSL) would be bid out by next year.

The “north to south” railway is being eyed to connect the northern and southern tips of Luzon Island via Metro Manila, although the initial leg would stretch only from the Tutuban station in Manila up to Legazpi City in Albay. The MTSL, meanwhile, would facilitate faster travel by train between the central business districts of Bonifacio Global City, Makati and the commercial areas along Manila Bay.

These two proposed railway projects are among the eight upcoming PPP projects expected to be taken up at a meeting of the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) tentatively scheduled on Friday, Canilao disclosed.

Other projects up for discussion include the P19.3-billion motor vehicle inspection system, which Canilao said would have “new parameters that are more viable to the private sector and acceptable to the market”; the computer system for the country’s statistics database; and also, the rebidding of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calax).

Despite the controversies surrounding the Calax bidding, many investors remain interested in PPP projects, Canilao said, citing the high interest in the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike project.

Also, Canilao said, the other priority PPP initiatives to be undertaken next year are aimed at improving transport infrastructure, such as the Ninoy Aquino International and Clark airports, as well as the extension of Line 1 of the Light Rail Transit.

Neda Director-General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said the Neda Board headed by the President would likely be convened after the Papal visit in January to grant the go-signal to the PPP projects in the pipeline.