Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr backs ‘old system’ of dealing with ROW issues in infra projects

2024 June 6

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is supporting the 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 Marcos and the Private Sector Advisory Council-Infrastructure Sector Group (PSAC-ISG) and other concerned agencies in Malacañang on Wednesday.

The old process was meant to secure the writ of possession after making a 15 percent initial payment for the property affected by the ROW process.

During the meeting, Marcos said reverting to the old process 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 the delays, talagang malaking (there are major) delays sa right of way. So, I spoke to the SolGen [Solicitor General] about it. I spoke to [Senator] Chiz [Escudero] and to (Rep.] Martin [Romualdez], the Speaker and the SP (Senate President), and I said there is a bill. There’s a House bill that’s going through the process that wants to amend the right-of-way process,” Marcos was quoted as saying in a Presidential Communications Office (PCO) news release.

“So, now, what we suggest, ibalik niyo na lang sa dati (return the old process). After you pay 15 percent, turnover na. Now, if you want to argue about valuation whatever it is then go ahead but the project can already begin. So, they’ve (legislators) 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.

The same, he said, would be the basis for the final draft that would come out in Congress.

Rogelio Singson, a member of the PSAC-ISG, told the President there was no issue regarding cost as the government was offering market price.

The problem, he said, comes from the actual process.

“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.

“Because Mr. President once the writ of possession is issued by the court, then the project can already proceed.”

The PSAC has recommended the creation of a dedicated ROW Technical Working Group similar to the Inter-Agency Committee for ROW for national railway projects involving critical agencies to streamline the acquisition of ROW for key IFPs such as toll roads, airports, and seaports.

Darryl John Esguerra (PNA)