By Chino S. Leyco
The Philippines and Japan are set to meet this week to discuss the progress of the Duterte administration’s big-ticket infrastructure projects that are being implemented with funding support from Tokyo.
Scheduled tomorrow (December 6, 2019), Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Economic and Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia will chair the Philippine delegation while Hiroto Izumi is expected to lead the Japanese side in the meeting.
The town of Hakone in eastern Japan is the venue of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation, which is also the ninth such dialogue between the two countries.
To recall, the first meeting was convened in March 2017 at Kantei, the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo, Japan and the most recent or eighth one was held at the Marriot Hotel in Clark, Pampanga.
According to Dominguez, the regular meetings held between the Philippines and Japan is part of the “fast and sure” approach adopted by the two countries.
He said this aims to ensure the smooth and swift implementation of the Japan-funded projects under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization program.
A clear demonstration of this “fast and sure” approach, Dominguez said was the signing of 10 loan agreements between Manila and Tokyo since President Duterte assumed office in June 2016.
Several of these agreements involving infrastructure projects, said Dominguez, were each processed and approved in a short span of three to four months.
These 10 loan agreements are Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard (Phase II), and Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST).
Also are the Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project, Arterial Road Bypass Project (Phase III) in Bulacan, New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project (II) and Metro Rail Transit Line 3 Rehabilitation Project,
They also included the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project (Phase IV), North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project or NSCREP (1st tranche of loan); and Metro Manila Subway Project or MMSP (Phase I).
Lastly, there was the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao.
Japan remains to be the No. 1 provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans and grants totaling $8.26 billion (46 percent share of the country’s total ODA loan portfolio) as of December 2018.
It is the Philippines’ second major trading partner in 2018 ($ 21.1 billion), the country’s second largest export market ($ 10.3 billion), and third import supplier ($ 10.82 billion).
Japan is also the Philippines’ fourth largest source of tourists, with over 631,000 Japanese having visited the country in 2018. Last year’s arrivals from Japan grew 8.15 percent over the same period in 2017.