Isko courts Japanese investors

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Erma Edera

TOKYO, Japan---Incoming Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said that Japanese businessmen are eager and willing to take another look at Manila and see if they can expand their businesses in the country's capital.

Newly-proclaimed Manila mayor-elect Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso (ALBERT GARCIA / MANILA BULLETIN) Newly-proclaimed Manila mayor-elect Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso (ALBERT GARCIA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Moreno made the statement as he joined President Duterte's official delegation in his visit here to participate in Nikkei's 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia.

In an interview with Malacañang reporters here, Moreno thanked Duterte for inviting and giving him an opportunity to find investors to fund his plans of introducing physical and vertical development in the city.

"This needs a lot of funding, and this is an opportunity for the City of Manila to engage with prospective Japanese investors," he said.

"As of now, mukhang maganda yung hopes nila with Manila, with yung leadership. So, as you can see kanina, maraming nage-engage sa atin dahil mukhang maraming may interes sa lungsod (As of now, it appears they have good hopes with Manila, with the leadership. As you can see, I've been engaging with some of them and it appears they are interested in Manila)," he added.

Moreno is also hoping to attract Japanese technological companies and software development companies who are seeking to expand their operations in the Philippines.

"Nangingisda lang naman ako dito, eh. Na sana may maiuwi para sa lungsod ng Maynila, someday, somehow (I'm just fishing here, hoping that I can bring something home for the City of Manila, someday, somehow)," he said.

"Ayokong pangunahan yung (I don't want to preempt the) investment. But they're very eager visiting us. So I think I'll start from there, the very least. I don't want to put high hopes. But, you know, anything above zero is positive," he added.

Plans for Manila

According to Moreno, he is looking for a long-term solution to Manila's creeks, recognizing that Manila is one of the cities contributing to the stench of the Pasig River and also the Manila Bay.

"Manila is full of creeks and small rivers, and as you can see in the past months, maraming (there are a lot of) pictures and videos shown to the public with regard to---nagkakaroon ng depository ng garbage sa ilog (there is a depository of garbage formed in the river). So I for one am hoping and dreaming that someday na may maayos na ilog (we will have a clean river)," he said.

Moreno also admitted that addressing Manila's garbage is also a "challenging task" especially in the northern part where a "transfer site" is temporarily located.

"That transfer site is already parang (like) mountains of garbage. So this is also health risk for our citizens in the northern part of the city where I live. Sinisinghot namin yung methane gas diyan araw-araw (We get to inhale the methane gas there every day)," he said.

"Some will not understand this because nakaano lang siya sa isang parte ng (it is only in one part of) Manila, but this is also a health risk for every citizen of Tondo and Manila," he added.

Moreno said he hopes to attract prospective investors from Japanese firms.

He said these investments could greatly boost his 10-year infrastructure development plan for Manila which includes projects intended to improve traffic, tourism, healthcare and jobs.

"I am looking at this working visit in Tokyo, Japan as an opportunity for the benefit of my fellow Manilans. This is an opportunity for the City of Manila to engage with prospective investors," he said.

It can be recalled that Domagoso was appointed by Duterte as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on May 8, 2018. He was also appointed as chairman and CEO of the North Luzon Railways Corporation in 2017.

"I haven't assumed the position yet. The new administration will start in July. However, we want to be productive as much as possible, especially during the transition period," Domagoso said.

"We are grateful to the President that he invited us to participate in this state visit not only for myself but also for the City of Manila," he added.

Meanwhile, Moreno said that he was informed by Public Works Secretary Mark Villar that Manila will get assistance from the national government on infrastructure projects.