February 18, 2018, 5:49 am
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PH, Japan set 5-yr infra plan

LAPU-LAPU CITY. -- Top officials of the Philippines and Japan have agreed to 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.

During the fourth meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation held at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort, Carlos Dominguez III, finance secretary, said the first tranche for the loan for the Metro Manila Subway is scheduled to be signed within the first quarter of the year.

“The first tranche for the loan for the Metro Manila Subway is due for signing in March 2018. Both sides agreed to work towards the partial operability of the subway line by 2022 at the latest,” Dominguez said in a press conference yesterday.

The Philippine side in the Joint Committee was headed by Dominguez and Ernesto Pernia, secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority, while the Japanese delegation was headed by Hiroto Izumi, who is a special advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In his opening statement, Dominguez said the bilateral cooperation with Japan complements the Philippine government’s economic growth strategies.

He added that by using Japanese technologies and expertise, the government aims to build safe and resilient structures and communities. 

During the meeting, both sides also presented measures to speed up the implementation of the Philippines’ infrastructure projects that Tokyo has committed to support.

“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,” the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

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 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 Metro Rail Transit-3 Rehabilitation and Improvement Project “in the coming months and after all internal approvals are completed.”

For the Philippine National Railways (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, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Asian Development Bankin order to achieve partial operations of the North-South rail section by 2022. 

The DOF likewise conveyed it has secured all 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. 

Abe announced during his first visit to the country in January 2017 the Japanese government’s intention to contribute a total of 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) in official development assistance 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,” Izumi said.

The Japanese side also confirmed the launching of a project on the construction of shelters and community infrastructure for residents and the budgetary support for the rehabilitation efforts for Marawi City.

Japan extended anew during the Joint Committee meeting its deepest condolences to those who lost their lives and families in the conflict and expressed “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. 

Both sides confirmed to continue discussions on possible projects, such as an urban development project for Cebu City and the masterplanning of Davao City.

Likewise, they agreed to meet for the fifth meeting of the Joint Committee at a time and venue mutually convenient for both sides.
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