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Use old process to unlock ROW gridlock — PBBM

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. (Courtesy: Presidential Communications Office/Facebook)
Charles Dantes

President Marcos backed a proposal to return to the “old system” of addressing right-of-way (ROW) issues to meet project timelines and avoid costly disruptions in the government’s infrastructure development program.

Resolving ROW issues were among those discussed during a meeting between Mr. Marcos and the Private Sector Advisory Council-Infrastructure Sector Group (PSAC-ISG) and other concerned agencies in Malacañang on Wednesday.

The old process involved securing a writ of possession after making a 15 percent initial payment for the property affected by the ROW process.

Mr. Marcos said reverting to this would address the delays in the construction of Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs).

“That’s very, very timely because we had a briefing on the flagship projects and there are major delays because of right of way. I spoke to the SolGen [Solicitor General] about it. I spoke to [Senator] Chiz [Escudero] and to [Speaker] Martin [Romualdez], the Speaker and the SP (Senate President), and I said there is a House bill that’s going through the process that wants to amend the right-of-way process,” the President said.

“So, now, what we suggest is to return to the old process. After you pay 15 percent, proceed with the turnover. Now, if you want to argue about valuation whatever it is then go ahead but the project can already begin. So, they’ve [lawmakers] agreed to that,” he added.

The President said the Executive Branch would also draft an accompanying bill for the Senate to file when deliberations resume.

Rogelio Singson, a PSAC-ISG member, emphasized the importance of securing a writ of possession for projects to proceed.

“As you said, you just need the deposit and then go to the expropriation, let the courts decide how much will be the eventual cost, but the writ of possession has to be issued,” Singson said.

PSAC earlier recommended establishing a dedicated ROW Technical Working Group to facilitate acquisition for key Infrastructure Flagship Projects.

Key projects affected by ROW issues include the Cagayan de Oro Diversion Road Extension, Davao City Bypass Construction Project, Samal Island-Davao City Connector Bridge, LRT-1 Cavite Extension Project, and EDSA Greenways Project.

Mr. Marcos in March created an inter-agency committee for rail projects with ROW issues through Administrative Order No. 19, with the secretary of the Department of Transportation serving as the chairperson and the secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development serving as co-chair.

Members of the committee include the Interior, Social Welfare, Environment, Finance, Budget, and Justice departments, as well as the Office of the Solicitor General.

Republic Act No. 10752 or the Right-of-Way Act authorizes the government to acquire real property needed as site or location for any national government infrastructure project through donation, negotiated sale, expropriation, or any other mode of acquisition.

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