President Duterte has expressed his gratitude to Japan for its love for the Philippines and for assisting the country in its economic development as if it was part of the Japanese archipelago.
Duterte said this as he witnessed the lowering of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) of the country’s first-ever Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) at the MMSP Compound in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City, on Sunday, June 12.
In his speech, the President thanked Japan for partnering with the Philippines to make the dream of having a subway a reality, particularly the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for being an ally in initiatives that will benefit Filipinos and accelerate the country’s economic development.
He, however, wondered why Japan loved the Philippines so much.
“I can’t seem to fathom the love of the Japanese people for this Republic. There are so many projects in the country and being pushed and sponsored by the JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency),” he said.
According to Duterte, he couldn’t help but think that Japan is treating the Philippines as if it were part of their country that needed to be developed.
“Until now, Japan has continued to help us to the extent that it would seem, really, that we are a part of the Japanese government,” he said.
“Para bang isang probinsya tayo (It’s like we are a province). We are being treated as almost a part of Japan that should be developed in due time,” he added.
The MMSP is the Philippines’ first underground railway system and one of the monumental projects under the Build, Build, Build Program of the Duterte Administration.
In February, the Philippines and Japan signed the 253.3-billion-yen (P112.1 billion) loan agreement for the Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1. This is the second tranche of the official development assistance loan. The first tranche of 104.53 billion yen was signed in March 2018.
The Subway project yen loan has an interest rate of 0.1 percent per annum (0.01 percent per annum for consulting services) and is payable for 28 years after a grace period of 12 years.
In his speech on Sunday, President Duterte said the terms of payment make it appear that the project is already a gift from Japan.
“‘Pag ganoon ang obligasyon mo, it is really gratis na ‘yan (If that is your obligation, then it is really like gratis already). It’s a gift from the Japanese people to the people of the Philippines,” he said.
“Alam man nila na hirap tayo pero (They know that we are poor but) for purposes of really — even the Philippines, [they] have to collect something, even if it is a token amount so that everything is recorded and everything can be traced kung ano ang kulang, kung ano ang mali (if something is missing or wrong),” he added.
The MMSP will have 13 underground stations across six cities in Metro Manila: Valenzuela City, Quezon City, Pasig City, Makati City, Taguig City, and portions of Parañaque City.
It will extend to the north and south of Metro Manila and is expected to provide convenient mass transportation to all Filipino commuters once finished.
According to the President, the project will significantly help commuters as it will be a faster mode of transportation that will effectively allow them to do other things.
“It will really help the commuting public, especially those coming from Quezon City going to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, to experience the convenience and comfort of a fast, efficient, and modern transportation system,” Duterte said.
“It will likewise allow travelers to save much time and energy, thereby giving them the opportunity to be more productive and more focused on other worthwhile endeavors,” he added.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Japan, this project will contribute to relieving severe traffic congestion in Metro Manila by seeking to meet growing transportation demand.
It will also ease atmospheric pollution and climate change by developing a subway in Metro Manila. The implementation of this project is expected to contribute to sustainable growth by promoting investment in the Philippines.
During his visit in 2019, Duterte thanked Japan for its commitment to his government’s infrastructure program. He said that the two countries have started to build the golden age of strategic partnership.
“Our commitment and resolve show the desire to expand cooperative ties further. I dare say that considering what we have accomplished and achieved, the Philippines and Japan are building a golden age [for] our Strategic Partnership,” Duterte had said.
He was also pleased with Japan’s reiteration that it is fully committed to the 1 trillion yen pledge of assistance to the Philippines.
“This covers [a] huge impact and high-value infrastructure projects that my country needs to sustain and spur our economic growth,” Duterte said.
“There will be some of the most ambitious and groundbreaking projects, including the Metro Manila Subway project, and major developments in the regions and provinces,” he added.