Japan has pledged a $2-billion loan package for the construction of the country’s biggest railway project.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario received the pledge — the largest development assistance given by Japan so far to a partner — during a meeting with Japan State Minister for Foreign Affairs Minoru Kiuchi at the sidelines of the regional meeting of Southeast Asian ministers in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The loan package is earmarked for the first phase of the North-South Commuter Rail (NSCR) Project, a 36.7-kilometer elevated railway from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban, Manila.
The loan aid, the DFA said, follows the commitment of the Japanese government in firming up its cooperation with the Philippines for the rail project as part of both nations “Cooperation Roadmap for Quality Infrastructure Development in the Transport Sector in Metropolitan Manila Area,” which was agreed upon during President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s State Visit to Japan in June this year.
Construction of the rail project is expected to start in 2017 and will be operational in 2020.
The train system is expected to transport 340,000 passengers daily.
Malacanang on Thursday welcomed the loan pledge, saying it will be “a boon to our on-going efforts to improve and modernize our public transport system.”
“The ODA package is a firm testament to the robust bilateral relations between the Philippines and Japan and affirms the confidence and support of the Japanese government to the reforms undertaken by the Aquino administration,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
The Palace official also expressed appreciation for Japan’s continuing support for the Min¬danao Peace Process including through the Japan-Bangsa¬moro Initiative for Reconstruction Development (J-BIRD II) project.
The project was launched in 2006 to pursue Japan’s commitment to the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Under this program are dozens of grassroots and development projects in Mindanao.
“Japan has been a valuable partner of the Philippine government in promoting lasting peace and Mindanao. . . The Aquino administration shall continue to work closely with Japan to advance initiatives on the areas of maritime security,” Coloma said.