BY BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON
Japanese officials said that they will fast track the plan to provide coast guard patrol ships to the Philippines amid the ever-worsening territorial disputes with China in the resource-rich region.
An agreement is expected to be signed today (Wednesday) in Tokyo between Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, a report on Japan Daily Press said.
In December last year, the Philippines formally requested for about 10 coast guard patrol ships, so it can effectively protect its maritime and coastal waters.
A fact-finding mission was sent by Tokyo in May to assess the situation and the need of Manila for such vessels. Experts from the Japan International Cooperation Agency were part of the mission.
The vessels will be turned over starting April 2014. Each patrol ship will coast more than 1 billion yen or $9.7 million.
It will be part of Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines. The country, whose military power has been suppressed after the World War II, is Manila’s top ODA provider.