One of the most promising assets of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the newly appointed Chairman of the Philippine National Railways (PNR), Michael Macapagal.
Although he was appointed only last May 2, Macapagal is already off to a great start as seen in the most recent project to be undertaken by the PNR under his watch.
Last week, Macapagal announced the start of the construction of the 147-kilometer North-South Commuter Railway Project of the PNR.
This railway project will connect the Clark commercial hub in Pampanga to Metropolitan Manila, and on to Calamba City in Laguna.
Macapagal said the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency provided the money for the P873-billion undertaking.
He is optimistic the investment is worthwhile because of the economic benefits a railway of this kind will bring to the country and the people.
More specifically, travel time will be greatly reduced, which translates to less expenses for everyone.
This way, employment opportunities will be available to provinces within the peripheries of Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas and Laguna.
The project consists of an elevated railway for commuters, and another at ground-level for cargo and freight.
There will be three depots built at strategic points.
More than 30 passenger terminals located at key areas of the route will make rail travel convenient and economical.
Acciona-DMCI and Leighton-First Balfour, both reputable engineering firms, won the contract for the construction of the railway project.
Japanese establishments Sumitomo Corporation and the Japan Transport Engineering Company have been contracted to supply the railway trains.
The contemplated fleet will consist of 13 electric trains, each consisting of more than a dozen coaches.
Macapagal expects when the railway project is constructed in full, about 800,000 passengers will be able to use the trains daily. Travel, he stressed, will be safe, convenient and comfortable.
The signing ceremonies for the project took place last April. President Marcos and Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista were present at the historic event.
Right after Macapagal was sworn in as PNR chairman by Secretary Bautista, Macapagal acknowledged that President Marcos will be known as the “Father of the Philippine railway system,” citing the President’s interest in modernizing and extending the railway systems in the Philippines.
Macapagal stressed a modern and extensive railway system in the country will ease the transportation problem of many Filipinos, encourage business and industry in the provinces, reduce overhead expenses and stabilize the prices of prime commodities, and generate hundreds of thousands of jobs that will arise from the development.
Macapagal added that he is very grateful to President Marcos for the trust he reposed on him, and for the opportunity to be a part of the nation’s economic development and the modernization of the Philippine railway system.
“I am very grateful for this chance to be of service in a vital industry of the nation. It is my fervent wish to live up to the trust reposed in me by President Marcos, and to be of service to the people,” Macapagal added.
Macapagal’s academic credentials and business experience are very impressive.
After graduating from the University of the Philippines in the 1990s, Macapagal obtained gainful employment in a number of local industries.
Soon after that, he went to the United States for specialized work in finance and related pursuits.
Macapagal found his comfort zone in the San Francisco Bay Area in California where he worked as division chief of Stewart Title Company, an American title insurance firm that has been around since 1893. This company is one of the biggest underwriters in the world.
Despite the opportunities available to him as a corporate officer in America, Macapagal decided to return to the Philippines and make a living in his homeland. Eventually, he became a director of the Clark Development Corporation in Pampanga; the point man of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales; and a member of the governing board of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), which was established by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1973 to stabilize the supply of oil and petroleum in the country.
After his stint in the PNOC, Macapagal was offered the PNR post.
Macapagal is a native of Olongapo City. His late father, Atty. Teddy Macapagal, was the most well-known litigation lawyer of the city, and served as city mayor in 1986. He inherited his keen interest in public service work from his dad.
Hopefully, the Pampanga-Metropolitan Manila-Laguna railway project will be just the first of many more worthwhile railway projects Macapagal will be attending to during his watch as PNR Chairman.
Now that Macapagal is at the helm of the PNR, and with the support of President Marcos a matter of fact, Filipinos can look forward to a better railway system in the country.