February 12, 2018
LAPU-LAPU CITY — Top officials of the Philippines and Japan agreed Monday to “steadily implement” for the next five years their joint commitments on major fields of bilateral cooperation, particularly on the implementation of the Duterte administration’s big-ticket infrastructure projects that Tokyo has pledged to support through funding and technology assistance.
During the fourth meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation held at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort here, both sides also agreed “to work towards the partial operability by 2022 of, and are looking forward to the signing of the first tranche of the loan for, the Metro Manila Subway Project (Phase I) by March 2018.”
The Philippine side in the Joint Committee was headed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), while the Japanese delegation was headed by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, who is a Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In his opening statement, Dominguez said that the bilateral cooperation with Japan complements the Philippine government’s economic growth strategies. He added that “by using Japanese technologies and expertise, we aim to build safe and resilient structures and communities.”
Dominguez described the meeting held this morning as a “fruitful” one, as he underscored how Japan shares the Philippine government’s “great sense of urgency “to see shovels at the ground and complete the major projects at the soonest feasible time.”
During the meeting, both sides also presented measures to speed up the implementation of the Philippines’ infrastructure projects that Tolyo has committed to support, and also confirmed “the updated candidate list of projects, including new projects proposed for Japanese loan/grant financing.”
“The Philippine side discussed the progress on the right-of-way acquisition and land resettlement, institutional arrangements on procurement, establishment of Project Monitoring Offices, budget allocation for government counterpart and measures to address cross-sectoral concerns,” read the statement of DOF on the high-level meeting.
Japan, for its part, presented measures to “fast-track project/loan processing and implementation,” which include shortening the review period for procurement, and providing grant support for the conduct of advance works for the detailed design of the projects.
The Philippine and Japan governments will also “continue to have consultations at the working level to accelerate implementation and address challenges” for the railway projects that were presented for Japanese financing.
“Allow me to to take this opportunity to thank Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his intense interest in seeing the cooperation projects undertaken at the soonest feasible time,” Dominguez said.
He also said both sides look forward to the signing of the Exchange of Notes for the grant financing for the Davao City Waste-to-Energy project, as well as the loan financing packages for the Pasig-Marikina Channel Improvement Project, Phase IV and the MRT-3 Rehabilitation and Improvement Project “in the coming months and after all internal approvals are completed.”
For the PNR North 2 (Malolos-Clark) and PNR South Commuter (Manila-Los Baños) railway lines, they agreed to continue trilateral consultations on the co-financing of the projects among the Philippine government, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in order to achieve partial operations of the North-South rail section by 2022.
Following the “fast and sure principle” and the Philippine Government’s initiatives to streamline processes, DOF conveyed that it has secured all the necessary internal government approvals for the signing of the loan agreement for the Arterial Road Bypass Project, Phase III in Bulacan, and is expecting the signing “at the earliest possible time.”
During the meeting, both sides also affirmed to steadily implement the “Japan – Philippines Joint Statement on Bilateral Cooperation for the Next Five Years” issued on the occasion of the Summit Meeting in October 2017 in Tokyo.
This Joint Statement issued by President Duterte and Prime Minister Abe during the Philippine leader’s visit to Japan in October last year, spelled out the details of the major fields of cooperation between the two countries.
The fields of cooperation include infrastructure development in Metro Manila and the Philippines’ regions; energy; creation of employment and improvement of living standards; public safety, which covers combatting illegal drugs, counterterrorism and maritime safety; information and communications; environment; agriculture; disaster risk reduction; and peace and development in Mindanao, which covers the reconstruction of Marawi City and its surrounding areas.
Prime Minister Abe announced during his first visit to the country in January 2017 the Japanese government’s intention to contribute a total of ¥1 trillion ($9 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) and investments to the Philippines for the next five years.
On the support for Marawi City, Japan confirmed the turnover to the Philippine government of heavy machinery and other equipment before March this year to aid in the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts for the conflict-torn area.
“It would be a symbol of Japan’s strong commitment for the reconstruction of Marawi and demonstrate the robust bond between our two countries,” Dr. Izumi said.
The Japanese side also confirmed the launching of a project on the construction of shelters and community infrastructure for its residents and the budgetary support for the rehabilitation efforts for Marawi City.
Japan also extended anew during the Joint Committee meeting its deepest condolences to those who had lost their lives and their families in the conflict and also expressed the “sincere hope that the situation in Marawi will be restored as soon as possible.”
The Japanese officials also discussed Tokyo’s ongoing and additional assistance for Marawi City, as well as its continuing assistance for the Philippine government’s peace and development programs for Mindanao.
The Philippines thanked the Japanese government both “for its enduring support for Mindanao and for its strong commitment to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City.”
During the meeting, the Japanese side also discussed developments on the following areas of sectoral cooperation: 1) Regional Development such as the on-going discussions of Master Plans in Cebu and Davao; 2) Information and Communications Technology; 3) Energy; 4) Agriculture; 6) Environment; 6) Public Safety (anti-illegal drug measures, Maritime safety, Space Technology); and 7) Disaster Prevention.
Both sides likewise confirmed to continue discussions on possible projects, such as an urban development project for Cebu City and the masterplanning of Davao City.
They also agreed to meet for the fifth meeting of the Joint Committee at a time and venue mutually convenient for both sides.