Zubiri on Kishida's historic speech: Japan indeed a 'best friend' to PH

Citing its numerous assistance to the country, Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri stated that this really shows that Japan is indeed a best friend to the Philippines.

Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri (from left), Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, House Speaker Martin Romualdez during the special joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. (Noel Pabalate/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview on Saturday, Nov. 4 just after the speech of Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio before a special joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Zubiri said that the Japanese government as well as its people are very close to the heart of Filipinos.

He cited Japan's 600 billion yen public-private assistance announced in February, which runs through March next year and will continue to support economic and social development, in line with President Marcos’ “Build Better More” program. He also mentioned a donation of 12 ships to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

"Nakita niyo naman po napakaganda ang mensahe niya ang dami po niyang tulong na ibibigay sa ating bansa (As you have seen he delivered a really great message and has committed to provide a lot of assistance to the country)," he said.

Zubiri also stressed how historic the event was with Kishida stating that he was "honored" for the distinction of being the first Prime Minister from Japan to address the body,

"Historic po ito. First time na nangyari in almost decades. The last joint session was done in 2006 at siya po ang pinakaunang Japanese Prime Minister na nagbigay mensahe dito sa joint session of Philippine Congress (This is historic. It's the first time that happened in almost decades. The last joint session was done in 2006. Kishida is the first Japanese Prime Minister that gave a message here in the joint session of Philippine Congress)," he said.

According to Zubiri, they are also pushing for the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between Japan and the Philippines which is equivalent to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
He said that this will pave the way for interoperability, cross cross-training of the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard with the Japanese Navy and Coast Guard. 

"Kami naman po sa Senado handang talakayin itong RAA kasi kami po ang magraratify niya, and nakakuha na po ako ng majority (We in the Senate are prepared to discuss the RAA since we'll be the one to ratify this and I have attained a majority)," he said. 

"We need more than 16 votes I believe we have more than that to ratify the RAA in the Senate," he added.