BEIJING - Before the dream of a Mindanao railway project can be realized, there must be peace and order.
Improvement of security and creating sources of livelihood for locals are needed to ensure smooth operations of a railway system, to prevent "gangsters" from derailing the trains and interfering with operations, said President Rodrigo Duterte during a press briefing in China on Wednesday.
In the meantime, he said, the Philippines has spoken with Beijing "broadly" regarding infrastructure in the Philippines, including railway systems in Luzon and Mindanao.
"No country in the world [could] ever progress or move on faster in development if you do not have the railway," Duterte said.
However, he admitted that the Philippine government also has to address traffic in Cebu, which is fast approaching a "critical" level. Davao is also nearing this level, but to a lesser degree, he said.
"Unlike in other places, other provinces, we might now really be so persistent about it. But Cebu has one of the [most crowded] congestions outside of Manila," Duterte said.
Duterte arrived in Beijing Tuesday night, with key officials seeking to strengthen economic ties with China.
He is set to meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Thursday.
In an Instagram post, Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Karen Jimeno said that public works and transport officials went to China CAMC Engineering Co., Ltd. to discuss infrastructure and transportation earlier this week.
China has the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world, Jimeno said, and has fast trains that can run at around 300 kilometers per hour.
"We want better transportation and infrastructure for the Philippines too," she said. --with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News