Press Release
July 7, 2015

Recto to DOTC : Don't make this the first
SONA day that PNR trains aren't running

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) trains should be back on service not later than the fourth Monday of this month so that President Aquino can cite the resumption of the operations of this vital people carrier in his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

"The PNR trains have been running every SONA day since 1986. There was train service when the Japanese was invading the Philippines in December 1941. Trains were running when the Katipuneros were battling the Spanish," Sen. Ralph Recto said.

Recto said it will be a "blot on the administration's overall good performance record" if the trains are grounded on the day President Aquino delivers his farewell SONA.

"If I were the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), I will be imposing a SONA deadline for the PNR to resume its service," Recto said.

This year's SONA falls on July 27.

The state-owned firm "indefinitely suspended" all train runs on its Manila-Laguna line on May 5, five days after a southbound commuter derailed near Magallanes, Makati City.

At least 70 passengers onboard the three-car train bound for Alabang were hurt after the lead coach careened on its side.

After a probe by PNR engineers showed that theft of angle bars, rail clips and rail joints was responsible for the derailment, PNR ordered the suspension "in the interest of public safety."

PNR said it would have to a conduct a foot-by-foot inspection of the entire rail tracks to ensure that portions compromised by pilferage of important parts will not jeopardize the safety of the trains and their passengers.

Recto, a champion of PNR modernization, said that "hopefully, the integrity of the tracks are certified safe as soon as possible for the benefit and relief of its commuters."

At least 80,000 people board daily the PNR trains that run between Tutuban and Calamba City.

DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya was quoted as saying that the PNR trains would only be allowed to run again once TUV Rheiland certifies they are safe to do so.

Recto sponsored the bill renewing the charter of the PNR. This became Republic Act 10638 after President Aquino signed it into law on June 16, 2014.

Largely due to its new franchise, Congress authorized P1.75 billion for the "repair, restoration and expansion" of PNR tracks and rolling stock.

Also in the 2015 budget is P546 million in subsidy for PNR operations.

Recto said the suspension of PNR service has hit "hard its suki : those working in factories in Laguna; students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) whose campus is near its Sta. Mesa station; those who buy or sell goods in Divisoria."

"Ang mas nakakaawa dito ay ang mga istudyante ng 'People's University' o PUP. Iyung mga taga-Alabang, Laguna at Cavite ay nahikayat mag-aral sa PUP dahil sa ginhawang dulot ng PNR train service," he said.

"Iyung dating isang oras na byahe nila, kalahating araw na. At lumobo rin ang pamasahe nila. Kung dati P20 lang, ngayon mas malaki na kasi ilang sakay ang kanilang gagawin," Recto said.

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