The Philippines and Japan reaffirmed their joint commitment to steadily implement the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects and other initiatives to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries amid and beyond the prolonged coronavirus-induced global crisis.
Japan, during the virtual meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation last week, said it remained committed to enhancing bilateral ties with the Philippines under the leadership of new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The Philippines welcomed the appointment of Prime Minister Suga and expressed appreciation of the significant strides made toward the continued economic cooperation and friendship between the two countries under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The 10th meeting of the high-level committee was held on Oct. 28 via videoconferencing for the first time because of 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.
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 co-chaired the Philippine panel, while Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the Special Advisor to the Japan Prime Minister, led the Japanese side.
Izumi assured Filipino 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.
Izumi said that Japan would like to continue to monitor and support the Philippines’ efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Japan approved 3.1 billion Japanese yen 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 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 for eligible countries, before the Philippines elevates its classification to an upper-middle income country on or before 2022.
The two sides 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 loan agreements and three exchange of notes even amid the pandemic.
These were for Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project (II); Davao City Bypass Construction Project (II); Cebu-Mactan Bridge (4th Bridge) and Coastal Road Construction Project; COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan; Post Disaster Stand-by Loan (Phase 2); Non-Project Grant Aid for the Economic and Social Development Programme for the Provision of Medical Equipment; Non-Project Grant Aid for the Economic and Social Development Programme for the Provision of Agricultural Machineries; and the Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship.