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The North-South Commuter Railway Project Will Cut Travel Time from Pampanga to Laguna to Just 1.5 Hours

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It will soon become easier and faster to travel from Pampanga to Laguna (and vice versa), thanks to the newly signed loan agreement by the Department of Finance (DOF) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

On January 21, Monday, the two agencies signed loan agreements worth 167.199 billion yen (P80.78 billion) on January 21 for the provision of official development assistance loans for the first phase of the North-South Commuter Railway project.

“This signing ceremony for the 1st tranche of the loan for the North-South Commuter Railway will allow work to begin towards completing a high-capacity commuter service along a 147-kilometer corridor from Clark, Pampanga to Calamba, Laguna,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

North-South Commuter Railway

The North-South Commuter Railway project aims to “seamlessly” connect Clark International Airport in Pampanga to Calamba, Laguna through 36 stations.

It is one of the railways the Duterte government aims to construct under its ambitious infrastructure program called Build, Build, Build and is also the biggest project under the program so far with a total project cost of P628.42 billion, the DOF said.

The merged railway system will have the capacity to run 15 trains with eight cars each per hour. Each train will have a maximum capacity of 2,200 passengers trip.

“Operating speed will reach up to 160 kilometers per hour, cutting the travel time between Clark and Calamba from the current 5 hours by bus to as little as 1.5 hours. This is an immense improvement over any other transit option available today,” he added.

The project is expected to be partially operational in 2022, during which it will have an estimated daily capacity of 340,000 passengers. It will shoot up to 550,000 daily passengers in 2023 when it becomes fully operational, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said.

The loan and total project cost

“The project will be co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The loan funds of the ODA loan will be allocated to procuring rolling stock and a railway system and to providing consulting services, and the ADB loan funds will be allocated to civil works,” JICA said in a news release.

The loan has an annual interest rate of 10 basis points for the project/non-consulting services and 1 basis point for consulting services. It has a repayment period of 40 years, with a 12-year grace period.

On November 2018, NEDA increased the total cost of the project from just P440.88 billion. It also said that the government will shoulder P5 billion per year for the capital and operating and renewal costs.

“The economic benefits of improved mobility for our commuters in this very large urban sprawl will far outweigh the total investment,” Dominguez added.

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15 public schools in Pampanga to undergo rehab works

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CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga—A total of 15 public schools in Porac town in the province will undergo some improvement works that will make them conducive to students’ learning and wellbeing.

The move is through the support of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program aimed at improving the educational facilities for students in its neighbor communities.

The state-run firm has donated various construction materials that include paints, hollow blocks, cement, lumber, roofing, and steel bars, among others.

CDC president and CEO Noel F. Manankil, in a statement on Wednesday said the donated materials were identified based on the needs of each school as evaluated by the personnel of the CDC–External Affairs Division.

Among the beneficiaries of the project are Salu Elementary School, Balubad Elementary School, Jalung Elementary School, Pulung Santol Elementary School, Palat Elementary School, Pias Elementary School, Pio Elementary School, Mancatian Elementary School and Pulung Santol High School.

Likewise, elementary schools in Planas, Mitla, Sepung Bulaun, Katutubo and Sapang Uwak villages and at Camias Resettlement in Porac also received the same assistance from CDC.

Manankil said the said schools comprise the first batch of recipients under the project.

“We have the primary moral obligation to support our local government units (LGUs) and we have a lot of programs in CDC that we want them to be involved,” he said.

He added that the state-owned firm, together with its locator companies, will create more strategic and relevant programs for communities especially in terms of education.

“We have a high priority for education because we believe that it is what actually equalized everybody in terms of their social status and in Clark, we want everybody to get involved, come up together and plan to have more relevant and more strategic CSR,” Manankil said. (PNA)

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7 dead in Lubao, Pampanga multi-vehicle accident

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The start of the new year is bleak for the relatives of the seven people who died in a multi-vehicle accident that occurred in Lubao, Pampanga on Wednesday afternoon.

One of the fatalities, Marie Grace David, was on her way from celebrating the New Year with her 12-year-old child, who was injured.

Another fatality was identified as Rowel Flores, 32. Like David, he was on her way home from Dau where he celebrated the New Year. He left behind two children.

Linette Valite, 18, another fatality, meanwhile was on her way to meet her boyfriend.

The rest of the fatalities were identified as Princess Quinto, Alex Razheed Nilayan, John Raven Astrero, and Mary Grace Castro.

Nine others were hurt in the accident, seven of them confined at Pampanga Medical Specialist Hospital and two others at Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Footage from CCTV showed a pickup that was about to turn to the main road from Jasa Road. The passenger jeep carrying the victims, which cannot be seen in the video, collided with the pickup that was thrown toward the opposite lane where it was hit by an oncoming truck.

The passenger jeep was a total wreck.

A rescue operation was immediately implemented.

The driver of the pickup truck, 68-year-old Alexander Domingo, is facing charges for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, physical injuries and damage to properties. He is now detained at the Lubao Municipal Police Station. — Vonne Aquino/BAP/KBK, GMA News

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2020 Public Holidays

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The regular holidays are:

January 1, 2020, Wednesday – New Year’s Day
April 9, 2020, Thursday – Araw ng Kagitingan
April 9, 2020 – Maundy Thursday
April 10, 2020 – Good Friday
May 1, 2020, Friday – Labor Day
June 12, 2020, Friday – Independence Day
August 31, 2020, last Monday of August – National Heroes’ Day
November 30, 2020, Monday – Bonifacio Day
December 25, 2020, Friday – Christmas Day
December 30, 2020, Wednesday – Rizal Day

Special non-working days:

January 25, 2020, Saturday – Chinese New Year
February 25, 2020, Tuesday – EDSA Revolution Anniversary
April 11, 2020 – Black Saturday
August 21, 2020, Friday – Ninoy Aquino Day
November 1, 2020, Sunday – All Saints’ Day
December 8, 2020, Tuesday – Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary
December 31, 2020, Thursday – last day of the year

Additional special non-working holidays:

November 2, 2020, Monday
December 24, 2020, Thursday

Malacañang will issue proclamations to declare national holidays for Eid’l Fitr and Eid’l Adha after the approximate dates of the Islamic holidays have been determined.

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