The governments of the Philippines and Japan will proceed with their high-level discussions on the progress of the Tokyo-funded infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program despite the ongoing pandemic, Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement, DOF said the 10th Japan-Philippines Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation will proceed as planned today (October 28) via videoconferencing amid travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aside from discussing the status of Japan-funded infrastructure projects, the high-level panel is also expected to provide updates from both sides on Japan’s assistance to the Philippines’ COVID-19 response efforts.
“Both sides will tackle the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of the Japan-supported projects and the safety of workers and other personnel involved in their construction,” DOF said.
The Philippines will also share developments on the Mindanao peace process, the ongoing rehabilitation of Marawi City, and the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Japan, for its part, will provide updates on its ongoing assistance to Mindanao under the framework of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) and other programs designed to help promote stability and economic growth in the region.
Among the Japan-funded infrastructure projects that the committee is expected to discuss are the Metro Manila Subway Project (Phase I), North-South Railway Project, Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) Rehabilitation Project, Davao City Bypass Construction Project, and the Cebu-Mactan Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the committee met alternately in Japan and the Philippines.
The panel first convened in March 2017 in Tokyo, while its latest face-to-face meeting was in Hakone in December last year.
Since the start of the Duterte administration, 15 loan agreements have been signed between the Philippines and Japan worth a combined JPY679.3 billion (approximately P317 billion or US$6.24 billion), of which 11 involve the construction of big-ticket projects under “Build, Build, Build.”
These agreements also include two loans amounting to JPY100 billion signed this year for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.
Japan ranks as the No. 1 provider of Official Development Assistance to the Philippines (ODA), with loan and grant commitments amounting to around $10.1 billion as of June 2020. This sum represents 38.53 percent of the country’s total ODA portfolio.
As of June 2020, ODA loans from Japan amounted to $10.03 billion (40.77 percent of the total), while grants totaled $69.45 million. This makes Japan the largest ODA loan provider to the Philippines and the 8th largest in terms of grant financing.