The partial operations of the country’s first subway in 2022 will be a “crowning achievement” of the robust cooperative ties between the Philippines and Japan, President Duterte declared Monday.
The President cited the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) while affirming his commitment to further strengthen the country’s relations with Japan during a phone conversation with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga Monday.
The two leaders have agreed to further deepen the strategic partnership in areas of cooperation such as infrastructure development and the Mindanao peace process, according to the Palace. The telephone conversation lasted for 25 minutes.
“Japan is a valued partner of the Philippines. As a friend closer than a brother, ours is an exemplary partnership that has withstood the test of time,” Duterte said during the phone call with Suga.
“The 36-kilometer Metro Manila Subway will commence partial operations by 2022. The first of its kind in the Philippines, it will be an important crowning achievement of our cooperation during my term,” he said.
The country’s first-ever subway is part of the government’s infrastructure development to improve transportation and mobility of people and goods. Around P34.6 billion will be set aside in the transportation department’s 2021 budget for the implementation of the phase 1 of the subway project.
The P355-billion massive project involves the construction of a 35-kilometer subway running across Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig and Pasay. The subway line, backed by Japan financing, is expected to have 17 stations to serve 370,000 passengers daily.
In the phone call with the Prime Minister, the President expressed gratitude to Japan for its continued support for the administration’s Build Build Build program as well as the peace and development initiatives in Mindanao, according to Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje.
Borje said the President thanked Japan for its $3.16 million emergency assistance, two loans for the country’s recovery efforts as well as its assistance in the repatriation of 3,852 Filipinos from Japan during the pandemic.
The President also voiced optimism about the country’s’ economic revival with the help of Japan. “Until COVID-19, the Philippines was consistently among the fastest-growing economies in the region. Our fundamentals remain robust. The support of Japan raises our optimism and confidence in containing the pandemic and steering our economy back onto its growth trajectory,” Duterte said.
Borje said the President also mentioned the “growing maritime security and defense cooperation” between the Philippines and Japan. Regional issues such as South China Sea and the situation in the Korean Peninsula were tackled by the two leaders.
He said the President thanked the Prime Minister for the expression of solidarity with the Filipinos affected by recent calamities. Duterte also invited anew the Prime Minister to visit the country as soon as circumstance allow.
Suga was elected Japan’s prime minister in a parliamentary vote last September following the resignation of Shinzo Abe due to a health ailment.
The Prime Minister relayed to Duterte that Japan remains committed to work closely with the Philippines in promoting a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to Borje.
Suga also remained hopeful the establishment of a Japan’s consular office in Cebu would boost the relations between the two countries.