PHL, Japan to sign exchange of notes on JPY206-B loans for 2 infra projects

Philippine and Japanese officials are set to sign and exchange on Wednesday (Nov. 21) two documents on Japan’s commitment to provide about 206 billion yen in concessional loans for a project designed to mitigate flooding in Metro Manila and another one to build a railway linking Manila to the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Laguna.

The Exchange of Notes for the JPY37.905 billion loan (approximately USD 336.24 Million) for the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project Phase IV and another one for the JPY167.199 billion loan (about USD 1.413 Billion) representing the first tranche for the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Extension Project will be signed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Japan, after this evening’s meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation in Pasay City.

In line with the “Fast and Sure” principle adopted by the Philippines and Japan in cooperating on major infrastructure projects, Dominguez said the Exchange of Notes for the two ventures will be signed only a week after the board of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chaired by President Duterte had approved these projects.

“We are making a mark in the history of the Philippines-Japan partnership in development cooperation,” Dominguez said in his opening remarks at the event held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

Today`s dialogue is the 6th high-level meeting to be held between the two countries to facilitate the financing and implementation of the Philippines’ projects under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program that are being undertaken with funding support from Japan.

Dominguez chaired the Philippines’ side while the Japanese delegation was led by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, who is a special advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“This is our sixth meeting since March 2017. Our regular meetings continue to visibly deliver positive impact on our key infrastructure projects and sectoral cooperation. I am glad to see this Joint Committee has covered and addressed many issues in such a short period of time,” Dominguez said.

“We look forward to an open, productive and meaningful dialogue this afternoon,” he added.

Dominguez said the two sides will continue to discuss the various Philippine flagship infrastructure projects included in the pipeline for Japanese financing “to address outstanding issues on project preparation and implementation.”

Among the projects to be discussed for financing through Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) is the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao.

The others include road construction and expansion projects in northern Luzon and Metro Manila, flood management and drainage improvements, and various components of the New Clark City project.

At the opening of the meeting, Dominguez, on behalf of the Philippine government, also thanked Japan for its support for the victims of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) as he expressed confidence that the collaboration between the two countries on disaster risk management “will surely mitigate such future events.”

He also thanked Japan for its plan to increase assistance for the peace process in Mindanao after the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Dominguez likewise expressed the Philippines’ support for Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, which, he said, “aims to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the ASEAN region.”

As a result of the regular dialogues between the two countries, Dominguez said two loan agreements were signed in a short span of time since the 5th meeting was held in Tokyo last June.

These cover the supplemental loan of JPY4.376 billion for the second phase of the New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environmental Protection Project and the JPY38.1 billion loan for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) Rehabilitation Project, which, Dominguez noted, underwent loan processing in less than three months.

“This underscores the ‘Fast and Sure’ approach we have adopted for our key infrastructure projects,” Dominguez said.

He added: “Indeed, I am convinced that through our regular meetings, both governments are prompted to deliver on our commitments and are encouraged to think of more innovative measures to improve our cooperation and facilitate project implementations.”

The loan for the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project Phase IV covers the final phase of the project to mitigate the frequent massive flooding caused by the overflow of the Pasig-Marikina River.

The final stage covers the river channel improvement works along the stretch of the Upper Marikina River, from the downstream of the Manggahan Floodway to the Marikina Bridge, and includes the construction of the Marikina Control Gate Structure.

For the NSCR Extension Project, Japan has committed to grant the loan in tranches. The project involves extending the NSCR railway from Malolos in Bulacanto Clark InternationalAirport (CIA) in Pampanga and from Solis in Manila to Calamba in Laguna.

Dominguez said the Philippine side will update the Japanese officials during their meeting on the current status of the Mindanao peace process and its outlook after the signing into law of the BOL; the status of Marawi’s reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts; and the progress of the initiatives in the various fields of sectoral cooperation between the two countries.

Joining Dominguez at the meeting are Secretaries Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Teodoro Locsin Jr of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy (DOE), Francisco Duque III of the Department of Health (DOH), and Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).