Philippines, Japan tackle infra development and peace-building initiatives for Mindanao

Saturday, February 23, 2019

High-level officials from the Philippines and Japan comprising the Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation convene its seventh meeting in Osaka, Japan on February 21, 2019 where they discussed infrastructure development, peace-building initiatives for Mindanao, and other key concerns significant to the expanding economic bilateral cooperation between the two (2) countries.

Since its first meeting in 2017, the “fast and sure” approach of the High-Level Joint Committee has made substantial progress in speeding up the loan approvals for Japan-supported “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects of the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte administration, with the processing time shortened to three to four months.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III headed the Philippine delegation composed of Philippine Embassy in Japan Ambassador Jose Laurel; Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia; Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno; Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade; Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar; Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi; Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario; Bases Conversion and Development Authority President and CEO Vivencio Dizon.

The Japanese delegation was led by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister; Special Adviser to the Cabinet Shigeru Kiyama; and Embassy of Japan to the Philippines Ambassador Koji Haneda.

Also in attendance at the meeting and provided significant support were DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain, NEDA Undersecretary Jonathan Uy, DBM Undersecretary Amenah Pangandaman, Undersecretary Timothy John Batan, National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., DPWH Assistant Secretary Eduardo Ramos, DOF Assistant Secretary Maria Edita Tan, and DPWH Project Director Virgilio Castillo.

The Joint Committee Meeting was followed by a Philippine Economic Briefing where economic managers and the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure team presented to Japanese investors the Philippines of today and what the country wish to accomplish under the “Build, Build,Build” Program to transport into a Golden Age of Infrastructure.

Through the regular meetings, both the Philippines and Japan leaders are prompted to deliver on commitments, encouraged to think of more innovative measures to improve cooperation and facilitate project implementation.

The development of cooperation for the following road and bridge projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) were discussed at the meeting: 1) New Mactan Bridge Construction Project; 2) Dalton Pass East Alignment Alternative Project; 3) Circumferential Road 3 Missing Link Project; and 4) Davao City Bypass Construction Project. Major updates were also shared for the following: DOTR’s Metro Manila Subway Project Phase I and North South Railway Project; BCDA’s New Clark City Project; DOE’s Project for the Improvement of Equipment of Power Distribution in the Bangsamoro Area; Marawi Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Program of the Task Force Bangon Marawi; and among others.

Additional financing support from Japan is expected soon following the signing of Exchange of Notes on February 10, 2019 for the construction and improvement of about 176.6 kilometers of access roads connecting Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and other regions in Mindanao under the Road Network Development Project in Conflict Affected Areas in Mindanao (RNDP-CAAM).

Earlier, a 2 billion Japanese Yen grant by the Japan International Cooperation Agency is now being utilized for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the 18.97 kilometer section of the Marawi Transcentral Road under the Reconstruction and Development Plan for Greater Marawi wherein contract packages 1-B and 2 with a total length of 9.56 kilometers has already broken ground on February 4, 2019 and attended by Ambassador Haneda and JICA Chief Representative Yoshio Wada.

The project is under the supervision of Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain of the DPWH-Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations and Technical Services who also is spearheading the implementation of all Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects under the Build, Build, Build Program of DPWH and was also assigned by Secretary Villar to serve as Alternate Representative and Focal Person in the Inter-Agency Task Force Bangon Marawi and manage the implementation of various infrastructure projects funded by the national government in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).