JAPAN will provide a ¥1-trillion (P430 billion) aid package to the Philippines over the next five years, visiting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday, as the two countries pledged to strengthen economic relations.
President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the Japanese premier in Malacañang, underscoring the “solid and strategic
partnerships” between Manila and Tokyo.
In a joint press statement, Duterte and Abe said the aid package would consist of official development assistance (ODA) and private-sector investments to help the Philippines overhaul its infrastructure.
“For the further development of the Philippines, we will create business opportunities through ODA and private-sector investments, which together will be of the order of ¥1 trillion over the next five years,” Abe said through an interpreter.
“We will 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 added.
Duterte said the Philippines and Japan’s economic agencies have been instructed to “seek new areas for collaboration” and work for the fulfillment of agreements signed during his visit to Japan last year.
“We also sought to further strengthen economic cooperation… As part of those efforts, we are encouraging our business sectors to intensify two-way trade and investments,” Duterte said.
During his official visit to Japan in October, Duterte was able to get 12 business agreements valued at $1.8 billion.
Abe is in the country for a two-day official visit. He will drop by Duterte’s hometown in Davao City on Friday.
Duterte, in his opening statement during their Palace summit meeting, said Abe’s visit to the country “demonstrates the shared commitment to further strengthen our important and valued strategic partnership.”
“Let us continue to work together to achieve goals of a more stable and secured region so that our nations and peoples can enjoy more peace, progress and prosperity,” he said.
In response, Abe said he chose Philippines to be his first foreign visit in 2017 to show his commitment to improve the relations between the two nations.
“This is a tremendous honor for me to be invited as the very first foreign leader under your administration visiting Manila. I chose the Philippines as my first destination this year and that is a testament to my primary emphasis on our bilateral relationship with the Philippines,” he said.
The Japanese leader also expressed support for the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit this year.
“And together with you, I am committed to elevating our bilateral relationship to a higher ground covering a wide-range of areas,” Abe said.
Duterte and Abe on Thursday pledged to deepen maritime and security cooperation to ensure that both countries would enjoy “more peace, progress and prosperity.”
“As maritime nations, the Philippines and Japan have a shared interest in keeping our waters safe and secure from threats of any kind. Capacity-building and assets acquisition and upgrading will be a centerpiece of this collaboration. We hope to fast-track the delivery to the Philippines of key assets already in the pipeline and the acquisition of new ones,” Duterte said.
Abe assured Duterte of Japan’s commitment to cooperate with the Philippines “hand-in-hand for the stability and prosperity of the region.”
“Both countries being maritime nations, Japan will enhance support for capacity-building in the field of maritime security,” the Japanese premier said.
The two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to pursue a peaceful resolution to the longstanding maritime dispute over South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
“The issue of the South China Sea is linked directly to regional peace and stability and is a concern to the entire international community,” Abe said, as he lauded Duterte’s efforts to improve the Philippines’ relations with China.
Support for Mindanao, anti-drug campaign
Abe also said Japan will continue to provide positive support for the peace and development of Mindanao, as well as “relevant measures of support” for the Philippines’ war on drugs.
“For our part, Japan will tap among others, knowledge of the private sector to assist in the improvement of related facilities, formulation of treatment programs and in other areas,” Abe said.
A total of five agreements were signed by the Philippines and Japan following a summit meeting attended by Duterte and Abe on Thursday in Malacañang:
• exchange of notes on an economic and social development grant worth P258 million for high-speed boats and other counter-terrorism equipment for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG);
• memorandum of cooperation (MOC) on the Low Carbon Growth Partnership/Joint Crediting Mechanism that will promote investments and the use of technologies, products, systems, services and infrastructure to achieve low carbon growth in Philippines;
• MOC between the PCG and the Japan Coast Guard involving maritime cooperation to promote maritime safety, security and marine environment protection through joint exercises, visits by patrol vessels and aircraft and capacity enhancement;
• MOC between the Presidential Communications Operations Office of the Philippines and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan for proof of concept and testing of road traffic information system through data broadcasting; and
• loan agreement and guarantee letter for the Harvesting Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship of Peaceful Transformation program.