Category : Press Release
Date : November 01, 2020
Agency : Department of Finance
Title : Philippines, Japan reaffirm close cooperation on “Build, Build, Build” projects, Mindanao development
Article : The Philippines and Japan have reaffirmed their joint commitment to steadily implement the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects and other initiatives to further strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries amid and beyond the prolonged coronavirus-induced global crisis.

During the virtual meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation, Japan also said it remains committed to enhancing bilateral ties with the Philippines under the leadership of new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The Philippines, for its part, welcomed the appointment of Prime Minister Suga, and expressed its appreciation of the significant strides made toward the continued economic cooperation and friendship between the two countries under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This 10th meeting of the high-level committee was held on October 28 via videoconferencing for the first time due to the travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our commitment to this long-standing partnership has proved beneficial amidst these trying times. Our cooperation in accelerating infrastructure development will be most critical in the country’s recovery from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

Secretary Dominguez, who led the Philippine panel in the meeting, said the two sides also discussed programs on accelerating Mindanao’s economic development and peace-building initiatives with a new Bangsamoro autonomous government in place and amid the ongoing rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Marawi City.

Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) co-chaired the Philippine panel, while Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the Special Advisor to the Japan Prime Minister, led the Japanese side.

Dr. Izumi assured the Philippine officials that under the administration of Prime Minister Suga, Japan’s commitment under former Prime Minister Abe to continue extending assistance to President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program and the Mindanao peace process “remain unchanged.”

The Philippines thanked Japan for its assistance to the country’s COVID-19 response efforts and programs to combat future natural and health-related emergencies during the meeting.

Dr. Izumi said that Japan would like to continue to monitor and support the Philippines’ efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Japan said it has already approved JPY3.1 billion in technical assistance for the Cebu-Mactan Bridge (4th Bridge) and Coastal Road Construction Project, the Master Plan for Subic Bay, the Parañaque Spillway, and the Cagayan de Oro-Malaybay Section of the Central Mindanao Highway project.

Both the Philippines and Japan also committed to work towards the signing of the agreement on the second tranche loan for the Metro Manila Subway Project (Phase 1) in the first quarter of 2021.

The Japanese side also committed to continuously provide technical assistance and technical assistance-related grants to the Philippines with highly concessional payment terms, possibly under its Special Terms of Economic Partnership (STEP) for eligible countries, before the Philippines elevates its classification to an Upper-Middle Income Country (UMIC) on or before 2022.

The two sides also discussed the milestones achieved by the Philippines and Japan in the short span of six months from March to September this year, when they were able to sign five (5) loan agreements and three (3) exchange of notes even amid the pandemic.

These were for the following projects, programs, and grants:

1) Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project (II);

2) Davao City Bypass Construction Project (II);

3) Cebu-Mactan Bridge (4th Bridge) and Coastal Road Construction Project;

4) COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan;

5) Post Disaster Stand-by Loan (Phase 2);

6) Non-Project Grant Aid for the Economic and Social Development Programme for the Provision of Medical Equipment;

7) Non-Project Grant Aid for the Economic and Social Development Programme for the Provision of Agricultural Machineries; and the

8) Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS).

The DOF said both sides also discussed the possible impact of the pandemic on the ongoing and pipeline infrastructure projects, particularly on the safety of the workers, the indicative increase in the total project costs, immigration concerns, and effects on the original timeline of the respective projects.

The Philippines committed to continue consultations with the affected stakeholders and to formulate a common framework to address these concerns, the DOF said.

Japan, in response, expressed its appreciation for these pro-active efforts.

Both sides also welcomed the progress of the railway projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program, including the Metro Manila Subway Project, and committed to hold consultations at the technical level to address the challenges to their swift implementation.

On the Mindanao peace process, the Japanese side reaffirmed its commitment to enhance its assistance to the development of Mindanao, including the new Bangsamoro autonomous region and the rehabilitation of Marawi city, upon the Philippines’ request.

The two sides also discussed developments on the following areas of bilateral sectoral cooperation:

1) Regional Development (Master Plan on High Standard Highway Network Development, Master Plan Surveys of Subic, Cebu and Davao City, etc.);

2) Information and Communications Technology (National Broadband Plan, Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting);

3) Energy (Cooperation in the LNG Sector and Power Sector);

4) Environment (Waste-to-Energy Project in Davao City);

5) Public Safety (Illegal Drug Control Measures, Maritime Safety); and

6) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (Project for Flood Control in Davao City, Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project).

The Philippine panel to the meeting included Secretaries Wendel Avisado of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy (DOE), Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Eduardo del Rosario of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD); Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA); President and CEO Vivencio Dizon; Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Ministry of Interior and Local Government; and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V.

Other officials who joined the meeting were DOF Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven; and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Marvin Gatpayat.

Joining Dr. Izumi at the virtual meeting were Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda; Kiyama Shigeru, the Special Adviser to the Cabinet; Director-General Kobayashi Kenichi of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Director-General Tsuchiya Akihiro of the Ministry of Finance; and other Cabinet officials.

Senior officials of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development (JOIN) were also present.