Category : Press Release
Date : July 28, 2021
Agency : Department of Finance
Title : 11th PH-Japan infra meeting highlights completed 1-T yen aid to Duterte administration’s BBB, other priority programs
Article : The Philippines and Japan marked Wednesday (July 28) their 11th high-level meeting on infrastructure development and economic cooperation with the completion this month of the 2017 Japanese commitment of 1 trillion yen (about US$9 billion) in assistance for the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build (BBB) program and its other priority initiatives.

In the completion of then-Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment to President Duterte to extend JPY1-trillion in financing to the Philippines from 2017 to 2022, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez noted the signing on July 27 of the Exchange of Notes for the P253.31-billion (about US$2.3 billion) second tranche loan for the 1st phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project.

This commitment was fulfilled under the current administration of Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was the Chief Cabinet Secretary during Prime Minister Abe’s term.

Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the Special Advisor to the Japan Prime Minister, who led the Japanese side in the virtual meeting, also highlighted this “milestone achievement” in the longstanding partnership between the two countries which Japan was able to deliver in four-and-a-half years.

He said that under the two countries’ “fast and sure approach,” Japan is planning to expand its assistance to the Philippines beyond its 2017 commitment of JPY 1 trillion.

The Philippine side was led by Secretary Dominguez and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

Secretary Dominguez noted that “today’s meeting [reflects] the 65th anniversary of the normalization of the Japan-Philippines diplomatic relations and a decade-old Strategic Partnership.”

“What better way to spend this momentous occasion than by fulfilling the one trillion yen commitment to the Philippines by the Government of Japan during the Duterte administration from 2017 to 2022, covering both ODA (official development assistance) and private sector financing,” he added.

Dr. Izumi, on his part said that “Japan, led by Prime Minister Suga, has continued to give us his support to Build, Build, Build and the Mindanao peace process,“ which underscores the “comprehensive” and “deepening” cooperation between the two countries.

He cited the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-2 East Extension Project that was completed despite the severe constraints of the pandemic, and recently inaugurated by President Duterte, as a prime example of Japan’s “fast and sure” approach in delivering its assistance to the Philippines.

A significant portion of the JPY1-trillion commitment to the Philippines provided funding support for the big-ticket projects of the Duterte administration’s BBB program, such as the Metro Manila Subway, North-South Commuter Railway, Metro Rail Transit-3 Rehabilitation, Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement, Davao City Bypass Construction Project, Cebu-Mactan Bridge (4th Bridge) and Coastal Road Construction Project, and the Paranaque Spillway, among others.

Japan has also assisted the Philippine government in developing the Subic Bay Regional Development Master Plan, with the final report on the study having been completed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) within schedule despite the logistical challenges posed by the pandemic. The report was handed over to Secretary Dominguez by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa on July 27.

“The cooperation in Subic Bay is a testament to the decades of deepening strategic partnership between our two countries,” Dr. Izumi said.

The Philippine side acknowledged Japan’s support for the development of the Subic Bay and its surrounding areas, as well as its assistance in crafting the master plans for the New Clark City, the urban transport system and comprehensive sewerage system in Cebu, and the infrastructure development of Davao City.

Secretary Dominguez assured the Japanese side that despite the ongoing pandemic, “we will continue our Build, Build, Build Program as planned and we look forward to this initiative to generate the highest multiplier effect to accelerate our economic recovery.”

Secretary Dominguez also expressed his deep appreciation for the continuing assistance extended by the government and people of Japan to the Philippines’ COVID-19 response efforts, including Japan’s donation of 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the country’s mass vaccination program.

“Our long-standing partnership proved to remain intact and beneficial to the resilience of our economies amidst these trying times. We truly appreciate your Government’s continued assistance to the Philippines’ initiatives in accelerating infrastructure development and addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary Dominguez said.

Aside from the AstraZeneca vaccine donation, Japan’s assistance to the Philippines’ COVID-19 response include the Post-Disaster Stand-by Loan (Phase 2) and the COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan totaling JPY100 billion (about US$910 million) combined; the JPY2-billion (about US$18.2 million) Non-Project Grant Aid for the provision of medical equipment; and the JPY687-million (about US$6.3 million) Program Grant for COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Provision of Cold Chain Transport and Ancillaries that aims to ensure safe and efficient vaccines delivery and preservation of the integrity and quality of vaccine doses.

Philippine and Japanese officials also reaffirmed during the meeting their strong cooperation on the implementation of projects aimed at maintaining peace and spurring development in Mindanao, which include the rehabilitation of Marawi City and the transition and normalization processes in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Secretary Dominguez also thanked Japan for its commitment “in deepening our cooperation in the sectors relating to regional development, information and communications technology, energy, environment, public safety, and disaster risk management.”

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), Francisco Duque III of the Department of Health (DOH), 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), who is concurrent Chairman of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM); Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the BARMM Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG); and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President-CEO Vivencio Dizon.

Other officials who joined the meeting were Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven of the Department of Finance (DOF); Undersecretary Marvin Gatpayat of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO); and Assistant Secretary Maria Edita Tan of the DOF.

Joining Dr. Izumi at the virtual meeting were Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko; Mr. Kiyama Shigeru, Special Adviser to the Cabinet; and officials from JICA, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN).

Officials from Japan’s Ministries of Finance; Foreign Affairs; Land Infrastructure and Tourism; Internal Affairs and Communications; Economy, Trade and Industry; Natural Resources and Energy; and Environment, also attended the meeting.

Japan ranks as the no. 1 provider of ODA to the Philippines, with loan and grant commitments amounting to around US$11.3 billion as of December 2020. This sum represents 36 percent of the country’s total ODA portfolio.