House Bill No. 2037, Sarmiento said, will promote the modernization of PNR by increasing its authorized capital stock to PhP100 billion while simultaneously imposing penalties to individuals who impede the free movement of trains or who destroy the train tracks.
In the Explanatory Note, Sarmiento said the first train to Bicol was put into operation on September 13, 1931. "Known as the Bicol Express, the PNR's train service to Bicol provided a link between the progressive Metro Manila and the region."
"Inarguably, the 'Bicol Express' was instrumental to the movements of goods and people across regions and provided growth to the Bicol region's economy, tourism, competitiveness, and quality of life. Notably, the PNR is the only franchisee in the Philippines that owns 750 km of continuous right of way into the Region's territory."
"For the past few years, however, the quality of PNR's service has deteriorated due to years of wear and tear, damage from neglect and devastation from natural calamities," it continues.
"The proposed legislation aims to modernize the PNR as the solution to the debilitating traffic congestion faced by Metro Manila and to the challenges faced by the slow movements of goods and passengers in Luzon and the Bicol region."
"An efficient, organized, reliable and safe train system is the formidable answer to the transportation woes of the Philippines."
"Let this bill be the start of a 'railway renaissance in the Philippines," Sarmiento concluded.
The bill has been pending with the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization since August 8, 2016.