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Japan pledges 3.2-B yen in loans for Mindanao projects

BusinessWorld Online
February 22, 2019

JAPAN has pledged additional grants for the Philippines following a joint meeting held in Osaka this week, which include funding for train simulators as well as projects for healthcare and peace efforts in Mindanao.

In a statement, the Department of Finance (DoF) said the seventh leg of the Japan-Philippines Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation held on Thursday yielded new loans and financial aid for the country.

Japanese officials have pledged a fresh 3.2 billion yen grant for peace and development projects in Mindanao, which came after the ratification of the proposed creation of the Bangsamoro region.

The fresh assistance will cover the following:

• 1.8 billion yen for the construction of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority training centers in the damaged city of Marawi, and the provinces of Basilan and Sultan Kudarat;

• 560 million yen for the provision of well-drilling machines and underground water detecting machines under the Economic and Social Development Programme;

• 200 million yen for the provision of livelihood assistance in agriculture and for fishers through the Food and Agriculture Organization;

• 300 million yen for the development of water facilities in the Bangsamoro region through the International Labor Organization; and

• 340 million yen for the provision of vehicles and equipment through the United Nations Development Programme.

This is on top of the $202-million loan for the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao, which is due to be signed soon after the two nations already exchanged notes for the credit line earlier this month.

Separately, Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda also signed the exchange of notes for a 1.2-billion yen assistance for train simulators to support the proposed Philippine Railway Institute. This is projected to train workers who will man the upcoming rail systems under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

Also discussed are feasibility studies for the Circumferential Road 3 Missing Link Project in Metro Manila and the Dalton Pass East Alignment Alternative Road Project. The Japanese leaders also said that they are considering a “possible supplemental loan” for the Davao City Bypass Construction Project, as requested by the Philippine government.

The two officials also signed a memorandum of cooperation for healthcare, as they look to set up facilities for universal health coverage, elderly care, disease prevention, maternal and child health services and sanitation.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte recently signed the universal healthcare law, which made all Filipinos mandatory members of the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

Mr. Dominguez said the joint meetings stand to improve cooperation and “facilitate project implementation,” with Japan currently the biggest donor to the Philippines via official development assistance.

“Our two countries have entered a golden age of our strategic partnership. In addition to government-to-government relationships, I hope the relationship between our private sectors would also be good,” Hiroto Izumi, Special Advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and leader of the Japanese contingent, was quoted as saying.

The Mr. Izumi said they will closely watch out for developments in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, which will kick off the signing of grant agreements involving the new region in Mindanao.

Japan has so far extended P189.92 billion (398.82 billion yen) for local projects since June 2016. Nine loan agreements have been signed so far, which include phase two of the New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project, the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 Rehabilitation Project; the first tranche of the North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project, and the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez