File photo: THEPHILBIZNEWS/MAS
The Philippines and Japan reaffirmed Wednesday their strong economic partnership and recognized the substantial gains made in deepening bilateral cooperation between the two countries at the conclusion of the 12th meeting under the Duterte administration of their high-level joint committee on infrastructure development and economic cooperation.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III chaired the Philippine side while Mr. Mori Masafumi, the Special Advisor to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, led the Japanese delegation in this morning’s virtual meeting of the Philippines-Japan High-Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation.
Secretary Dominguez said the past six years of development cooperation between the Philippines and Japan under the umbrella of this high-level committee “have been fruitful despite the challenges and inevitable delays brought by the pandemic and unforeseen natural disasters.”
“Between the first Joint Committee Meeting in 2017 and today, much has been started, achieved, and will be further continued,” Secretary Dominguez said.
Mr. Mori, for his part, reiterated the commitment made by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to President Rodrigo Duterte on continuing Japan’s “support to the Philippine’s infrastructure development including railways, response to COVID-19, and capability enhancement for maritime law enforcement,” among other development initiatives between the two countries.
“I wish to report that Japan’s public and private financial contribution to the Philippines’ nation-building in the five years since January 2017 amounts to 1.38 trillion yen, well over the 1 trillion yen mark set forth. I’d like to emphasize that the government of Japan’s commitment to the bilateral cooperation project remains unchanged under the Kishida Cabinet,” Mr. Mori said.
Also present at the meeting held via teleconferencing was Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa.
Secretary Dominguez extended the Philippines’ deep appreciation to the government and people of Japan for their continued assistance to the Philippines’ initiatives in accelerating infrastructure development and addressing the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.
He cited Japan’s invaluable support for the implementation or completion of several game-changing projects in the road network development, aviation, and railway sectors under President Rodrigo Duterte’s centerpiece program “Build, Build, Build.”
Japan also played a pivotal role in the reconstruction of the conflict-torn city of Marawi and provided timely assistance to the Philippines during the COVID-19 crisis, Secretary Dominguez said.
“Moving forward, we are confident that the Japanese Government will continue to be a valuable partner in support of the Philippine government’s development objectives,” he added.
Secretary Dominguez said the long-standing partnership between the two countries “proved to remain intact and beneficial, which is a testament to the resilience of our economies amidst these trying times.”
During the meeting, the two sides discussed proposed additional financing support of 30 billion yen from Japan under the 2nd COVID-19 Crisis Response Support Loan (CCRESL 2) to help cover the funding for the Philippines’ ongoing national vaccination program.
The meeting also highlighted the achievements of the joint committee and the cooperation between Japan and the Philippines on the following areas: (1) pandemic response efforts, (2) implementation of flagship infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program; (3) support for the Mindanao peace process; and (4) sectoral cooperation particularly in regional development, information and communication technology (ICT), and energy.
Among the big-ticket projects and their progress that were discussed during the meeting were the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP), North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project, rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), Dalton Pass East Alignment Alternative Road Project, Central Mindanao Highway Project (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybalay Section), and the Parañaque Spillway.
The two sides also provided updates on the Urgent Bridges Construction Project for Rural Development Phase II- Component I, Davao City Flood Control and Drainage Project, the regional development masterplan for Subic Bay, and the Smart City initiatives in New Clark City.
“We would like to recognize our strong and shared commitment to accelerating infrastructure development and economic growth in the Philippines. The support of the Government of Japan has been instrumental to the country’s growth trajectory and in our economic recovery,” Secretary Dominguez said.
Joining Secretary Dominguez in today’s meeting were Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua; Philippine Ambassador to the Japan Jose Laurel V; Budget and Management OIC-Secretary Tina Marie Canda; Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade; Public Works and Highways Acting Secretary Roger Mercado; Health Secretary Francisco Duque III; Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi; Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary and Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) Chairman Eduardo Del Rosario; Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) OIC-President Aristotle Batuhan; Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Marvin Gatpayat; and Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven.
Aside from Mr. Mori and Ambassador Koshikawa, the Japanese side was represented by, among others, Special Adviser to the Cabinet Mr. Kiyama Shigeru; Director-General Mr. Tawara Yasuo of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications; Director-General of Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Mr. Kano Takehiro of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Director Mr. Oe Toru of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry; Director-General Mr. Yamagami Noriyoshi of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Tourism; and Senior Vice President Mr. Yamanaka Shinichi of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).