The Philippine and Japanese governments are ready to sign the 4.409 billion yen (around P2.06 billion) supplemental loan agreement for the Metro Manila Priority Seismic Bridge Improvement Project in the coming months, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
The DOF said in a statement that Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, has informed Hiroto Izumi, the Special Advisor to Japan Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, and other Japanese officials during the 9th High-Level Meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation held in Hakone, Japan last week the two countries are soon ready to sign the said loan agreement.
According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the project seeks to strengthen the resilience of the transport network in Metro Manila by replacing two major bridges, Lambingan Bridge and Guadalupe Bridge, on the arterial roadways with the improved seismic bridge design specifications.
Both the Philippine and Japanese sides likewise confirmed to work towards the signing of the exchange of notes and the loan agreement for a supplemental loan to finance the ongoing Davao City Bypass Construction Project, the DOF said.
The Japanese side also expressed its intention to conduct pre-feasibility studies for four of the Philippines’ priority projects, namely: the Cebu Circumferential Road, Second San Juanico Bridge and Access Road, Central Mindanao Highway (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybay Section), and Agusan del Norte-Butuan City Logistical Highway (4th Butuan Bridge).
The DOF said that both sides also confirmed to speed up the formulation of the Central Mindanao Highway Project (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybalay Section), as a candidate for Japanese official development assistance (ODA).
They also committed to closely coordinate in finalizing the regional development master plan for Subic Bay and its surrounding areas “at the soonest possible time.”
The DOF said that the Japanese side likewise reiterated its intention to provide a loan under the Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) financing program for the Cebu-Mactan Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project and discussed with its Philippine counterparts the progress of the Dalton Pass East Alignment Alternative Road Project, particularly the commencement of this project’s feasibility study which is being financed through a grant from the JICA.
Japan also reaffirmed its readiness to enhance its assistance to the Philippines for the development of Mindanao, and provide additional technical aid to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the most affected areas in Marawi City.
Both sides discussed, too, the developments on the following areas of bilateral sectoral cooperation: regional development; information and communications technology (National Broadband Plan, Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting and Cybersecurity); energy; environment; public safety (anti-illegal drug measures, maritime safety and satellite assets); and disaster risk reduction and management.
Dominguez, representing the Philippine government, and Izumi, on behalf of Japan, also signed the memorandum of cooperation signifying the latter’s commitment to provide technical support to the Duterte administration’s formulation of a regional development master plan designed to maximize the economic potentials of the Subic Bay and its surrounding areas.
According to the DOF, Izumi said the meeting aims to further enrich the cooperation program between the Philippines and Japan and closely monitor the progress of projects for bilateral cooperation.