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PHL, Japan officials meet on proposed projects

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine and Japanese officials have pledged here to work closely on possible projects for cooperation on infrastructure development.
In the first meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation held here this week, the Philippine side presented its priority projects for possible implementation with Japan Official Development Assistance (ODA) financing and support, and the Japanese side acknowledged the list based on the Prime Minister’s commitment to provide JPY1 Trillion (about US$9 Billion) financing package to the Philippines. The priority list covers projects in railway; irrigation; and public works projects covering road and flood management.
Additional projects in the areas of public works, energy, and industrial zone development were also submitted as candidates for Japan ODA financing.
Based on the discussion, the Japanese side will review the projects for bilateral cooperation.
The first meeting of the Joint Committee took place at Kantei, the Prime Minister’s Office. The Philippine side was headed by the Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, while the Japanese side was led by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the special advisor to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
This joint panel’s formation was announced during Prime Minister Abe’s visit last January to the Philippines, where he announced the Japanese government’s commitment of one trillion yen in development assistance and investments to the Philippines within the next five years.
The Joint Committee is set to meet next in the Philippines within the year at a date to be agreed upon by both parties.
In the meeting, the Philippine and Japanese delegations consulted with each other on how to enhance cooperation such as improving approval processes and project design and implementation, including provision of support for feasibility study upon request of the Philippine side. Top officials of both countries also discussed the formulation of action plans to speed up the implementation of Philippine projects in cooperation with Japan.
The Japanese Government representatives took the opportunity to promote quality infrastructure based on their country’s experience, technologies and knowhow.
On the same occasion, the Philippine delegation expressed its appreciation to Japan for presenting the Power Sector Action Plan, which was prepared with Japanese Government’s assistance.
The Philippine delegation also presented to Japanese officials the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022 and provided updates on the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals.
Following the recent signing of the Exchange of Notes between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Embassy of Japan in Manila on March 23, “The Japanese side expressed its intention to continue providing public and private assistance to the Philippines particularly in the areas of infrastructure development, counter-terrorism and public safety, anti-illegal drug measures and energy development, as well as in support of the Philippine Government’s efforts to achieve lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” the DOF said.
“Both sides will strive to immediately facilitate the implementation of programs that aim to combat illegal drug abuse [in the Philippines], help improve power distribution in the Bangsamoro area, deliver humanitarian assistance for children in Mindanao, and provide equipment [to the Philippine government] for safety and counter-terrorism,” the DOF said in a statement.
The inaugural meeting of the Joint Committee follows the successful official visit of President Duterte to Japan last year and the reciprocal visit made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Philippines in January.
Besides Dominguez, the Philippine delegation also included Senator Alan Peter Cayetano; Secretaries Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy (DOE); Vivencio Dizon, president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Reuben Lista, president of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC); Undersecretary Cesar Chavez of the Department of Transportation (DOTr); and Charge d’Affaires Eduardo Martin Meñez of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.
High-ranking officials of the Japan Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Finance; Economy, Trade and Industry; Land Infrastructure and Transport; Internal Affairs and Communications; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Health, Labor and Welfare and official funding agencies – Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) – were present at the Joint Committee Meeting.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.