In light of recent news, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) would like to clarify concerns regarding the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-Subway projects in Cebu.

NEDA stands firm and impartial in upholding standard practices and appropriate NEDA Board processes for all infrastructure project proposals.

To provide context, Secretary Ernesto Pernia was in Cebu last August 4 to grace the launching of the Regional Development Plan 2017-2022 for Central Visayas. The event was held at the Cebu Normal University, and was followed by a press conference with local media.

During the press conference, Secretary Pernia was asked about the status of the Cebu BRT project against the LRT project in Cebu, which was proposed by Presidential Assistant for Visayas, Michael Dino.

According to Secretary Pernia, the Cebu BRT project is nearing implementation and is already in the advanced stages of approval, while a Feasibility Study has yet to be submitted for the Cebu LRT project to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and NEDA.

Subsequently, Pernia received a call from Dino requesting for a meeting at the Cebu Waterfront Hotel after the press conference. Only during this meeting did Pernia learn that Dino’s proposal was a hybrid LRT-Subway project.

In concept, the project proposal includes an LRT line that runs from the south of Cebu (outside the city), and transitions into a subway line traversing the Cebu City Center. It then shifts again into an LRT line going north of the City.

Pernia personally found this proposal conceptually better than the BRT, given the narrow streets of Cebu City.

However, Pernia clarified that the LRT-Subway proposal will still have to undergo the rigorous and long processes of project proposal and approval.

As standard practice for all big-ticket public projects, proposals are brought to the concerned line agency with a completed Feasibility Study (FS).

Should FS findings show the projects’ economic viability, these proposals will be thoroughly evaluated by the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) Technical Board prior to the NEDA ICC Cabinet Committee, then the NEDA Board for final approval.

Secretary Pernia cannot, by himself, put the Cebu BRT project on hold, much less scrapped, in favor of the Cebu LRT-Subway project.

All decisions concerning infrastructure projects go through collegial discussions to reach a collective and optimal decision.

The ICC Cabinet Committee is composed of nine Cabinet members, while the NEDA Board is composed of 22 members, including the President as Chairman and the NEDA Secretary as Vice Chair.

Nevertheless, all decisions made final by the NEDA Board are grounded on national and public interest, upon endorsement by the ICC Cabinet Committee.