CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga — The Philippines and Japan on Tuesday signed a loan agreement amounting to $202.02 million for the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao during the 8th High-Level joint committee meeting held here.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that the loan agreement was officially signed by the Philippines and Japanese government for the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao (RNDP) which includes funding for consulting services and civil works that will involve the construction and improvement of about 176.6 kilometers (km) of access roads, including 19.8 km of the Marawi Ring Road and 23 km of the Marawi Trans-Central Road.
Signing the loan intended for RNDP were Dominguez on behalf of the Philippines and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Senior Vice President Yasushi Tanaka on behalf of the Japanese government.
Dominguez, during the meeting, discussed broad areas including regional development, information and communications, technology, energy and environment, public safety, disaster prevention and peace building initiatives.
It was also discussed, Dominguez said, future cooperation as the country is eyeing to “graduate” to upper middle income country status by the end of this year or 2020.
Further, Finance Secretary said both Japanese and Philippines delegation agreed to maintain close coordination to resolve pending issues and revisit certain procedures in order to fast-track the big ticket projects of the Duterte Administration.
Signing for the supplemental loan for the ongoing Davao City bypass construction project within this year and three more loan accords for the new Mactan bridge in Cebu the 2nd phase of Metro Manila priority seismic improvement project and 2nd tranche loan for the 1st phase of the Metro Manila Subway were also discussed, he said.
Also a review progress of the Philippines Railway Project that will be rolled out with Japan was tackled to accelarate implementation and to address all the challenges.
Dominguez said the conduct of feasibility studies by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the Dalton Pass East Alignment alternative road project and circumferential road 3 missing link project will be done later this year.
Meanwhile, according to Dominguez, Japan affirmed its commitment to provide additional assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the most affected areas in Marawi City.
Japan government is known to be the largest donor for Marawi rehabilitation.
“Today’s meeting was intensive and fruitful and we thank Dr. Hiroto Izumi, Special Adviser to Prime Minister Abe, for his keen interest in seeing the speedy completion of the cooperation projects. We are looking forward for the 9th meeting of this committee which is scheduled on October this year,” the Finance Secretary ended.
The 8th session of the high-level joint committee since it was first convened in March 2017 was part of the Duterte administration’s efforts to fast-track the rollout of its 75 big-ticket projects under the President’s signature initiative “Build, Build, Build.”
Dominguez said nine other loan agreements with Japan were signed between October 2016 and January 2019 with a combined amount of JPY398.82 billion (about US$3.63 billion or P189.92 billion), which are for the following projects:
1) Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard (Phase II);
2) Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST);
3) Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project;
4) Arterial Road Bypass Project (Phase III) in Bulacan;
5) New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project (II);
6) Metro Rail Transit Line 3 Rehabilitation Project;
7) Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project (Phase IV);
8) North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project (1st tranche of loan); and
9) Metro Manila Subway Project (Phase I), which is the single biggest venture under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
Japan remains to be the No. 1 provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans totaling USD6.13 billion (47.51 percent share of the total ODA loan), and the No. 5 provider of ODA grants amounting to US$106.76 M (4.45 percent share of the total ODA grants) as of December 2018 (according to the latest data generated by NEDA on April 25, 2019).