Japan assures continuous support to PH infra projects

Published October 26, 2021, 3:56 PM

by Waylon Galvez

After years of partnership that led to large-scale infrastructure of the government’s ‘Build! Build! Build!’ program, the tie-up between the Philippines and Japan, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will continue with projects aimed at improving transport infrastructures in the country.

That cooperation between the two nations was the main point of discussion when Economic Minister Masahiro Nakata of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines and JICA Philippines Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa made a courtesy visit to new Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Roger G. Mercado Tuesday, Oct. 26 at the DPWH office in Manila.

During the meeting, Nakata and Azukizawa assured their full support to the new leadership of the department as Mercado took over the position vacated by former Secretary Mark Villar.

“I wish to once again express my heartfelt gratitude for Embassy of Japan and JICA-Philippines officers for taking the time to visit DPWH despite busy schedule,” said Mercado, who was with DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain as they welcomed the Japanese delegation.

Embassy of Japan Second Secretary Tomohiro Matsubara; and JICA Philippines Senior Representatives Kenji Kuronuma, Ayumu Ohshima, and Yo Ebisawa were also present during the meeting.

Sadain, who is in-charge of the DPWH Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations that handles large-scale infrastructure programs of the DPWH under the Official Development Assistance (ODA) financing, said that JICA has been fully supportive in developing transport infrastructures.

The improvement on this aspect has been the goal of the administration of President Duterte when he was elected in 2016. The Chief Executive appointed Villar as DPWH secretary.

“Numerous development projects in the countryside demonstrate how Japan and the Philippines enjoy a deep and warm relationship akin to that of a family or siblings,” said Sadain.

A number of flagship infrastructure projects in Luzon financed by the Japanese government include the widening from two to four lanes of the 24.61kms including 10 bridges of Arterial Road (Plaridel) Bypass Project between Brgy. Burol, Balagtas to Brgy. Maasim, San Rafael in the Province of Bulacan under JICA Loan Agreement No. PH-P266; the 30km four lanes Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX) Project from the connection of Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) in Balingcanaway, Tarlac City and ends at the Pan-Philippine Highway.

Also part of this is the Daang Maharlika in Caalibangbangan, Cabanatuan City under JICA Loan Agreement No. PH-P249; Metro Manila Priority Bridge Seismic Improvement Project for two major bridges in Metro Manila, these are the Lambingan Bridge and Guadalupe Bridge, under JICA Loan Agreement Nos. PH-P260 and PH-P272.

Japan also helped in the channel improvement works for Middle Marikina River including the construction of Manggahan Control Gate Structure and construction of Cainta Floodgate and Taytay Sluicegate at the joining sections of Cainta and Taytay rivers to Mangahan Floodway under the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project Phase IV funded by JICA Loan Agreement No. PH-P271; as well as the Flood Risk Management Project for Cagayan River in Region 2 and Imus River in Region 4A under JICA Loan Agreement No. PH-P253; and Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project under JICA Loan Agreement No. PH-P265.

In Visayas, the detailed engineering design study under JICA Grant is on-going for the Cebu-Mactan Bridge (4th Bridge) and Coastal Road Construction Project to be funded by JICA Loan Agreement No. PH-P274.

The department and JICA are also working together towards peace and development in Mindanao.

JICA provided a 2 Billion Japanese yen or approximately ₱970 Million donation/grant for the design and build of 18.97km Marawi Transcentral Road Phase 1 under the Programme for the Support to Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Marawi City.

In addition to this grant assistance, JICA is also financing the construction of another 18.78km Marawi Transcentral Road Phase 3 together with other projects to support peace building included in the Road Network Development Project in Conflict Affected Areas is Mindanao (RNDP-CAAM) under JICA Loan Agreement No. PH-F-P1.

Other on-going projects between the two is the construction of the four-lane 45.50km Davao City Bypass Construction Project is also on-going funded by Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) Loan from JICA under Loan Agreement Nos. PH-P261 and PH-P273.

Under the STEP loan that will promote transfer of outstanding Japanese engineering technology and expertise, the main contract is Japan tied but allows a joint venture in addition to the Japanese company.

On the other hand, in an effort to protect flood prone areas and strengthen the resilience to climate change, the Flood Risk Management Project in Cagayan De Oro River funded under JICA Loan Agreement PH-P259 is also on-going that features innovative technology and design approach based on a 25-year flood return period for resilient flood management.

These UPMO projects are under the supervision of Project Director Benjamin A. Bautista of Roads Management Cluster 1 (Bilateral), Project Director Ramon Arriola III of Flood Control Management Cluster, and Project Director Rodrigo Delos Reyes of Bridge Management Cluster who were all present during the courtesy visit of Japanese officials as well as DPWH Region 8 Director Nerrie Bueno.