Tokyo pledges PHP434-B development aid to Manila

MANILA — Japan on Thursday pledged to provide JPY 1 trillion (PHP 434 billion) in development aid to the Philippines and help its partner overhaul its infrastructure as the two countries seek ways to further strengthen bilateral ties.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the pledge in a joint press briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.

“For the further development of the Philippines, we will create business opportunities through ODA (official development assistance) and private sector investments which together will be of the order of one trillion yen over the next five years,” the Japanese leader said.

For this, a joint committee on economic cooperation and infrastructure will be launched through which both the private and public sectors will provide a strong underpinning for nation building.

“We will also leverage Japanese technology and know-how to the fullest extent to positively cooperate for the improvement of infrastructure in Metro Manila and the whole of the Philippines,” he said.

“Japan will continue to provide positive support for the peace and development of Mindanao. A decision has been taken to start studies for the urban development and flood control of Davao City,” Abe said.

Tokyo, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, has been helping Manila study the feasibility of building railways that will connect the capital to nearby provinces and the first-ever rail system in Mindanao.

The Japanese Prime Minister, who visits Davao City Friday, will also be the first head of state to be hosted by President Duterte in Davao.

For his part, Duterte said that Manila and Tokyo have instructed their respective agencies to seek new areas of collaboration as well as to work on fulfilling the agreements signed in Tokyo last year during his state visit.

The President secured about USD1.85 billion in investment pledges during his visit to Japan last October.

“As part of those efforts, we are encouraging our business sectors to intensify two-way trade and investments. In fact, later today and in Davao, Prime Minister Abe and I will meet with the key business leaders,” Duterte said.

Prime Minister Abe is in a two-day official visit to the Philippines upon the invitation of President Duterte.

Abe is the first head of state to visit the country under the Duterte presidency. The Philippines is also the first country visited by the Japanese leader this year.

Abe said “this is a testament to my primary emphasis on our bilateral relationship with President Duterte and the Philippines. Cielito Reganit/