PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte secured $1.8 billion in investment pledges from Japanese companies during his three-day official trip to Tokyo, a Palace official said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said a total of 12 “private-to-private joint undertakings” were signed in Japan.
Abella said Japanese conglomerate Marubeni also made a “verbal commitment” to invest around $17.2 billion “for infrastructure, specifically for mass transport, roads, water, and power projects.”
“It’s a verbal offer so nothing has been signed. They’re already existing here,” Abella added.
Marubeni is present in the Philippines through Marubeni Philippines Corp., which engages in telecommunications, information technology, power, agriculture, transportation, construction and metals.
Duterte’s trip from October 25 to 27 also yielded P9.9 billion in loan packages with the Japanese government to finance new vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard and provide assistance to agribusinesses.
In his arrival speech at the Davao International Airport on Thursday, Duterte said his meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Japanese officials were “productive,” with gains in economic, sociopolitical security, and defense cooperation.
“By all counts and by any measure, Philippines-Japan ties today are excellent,” he said.
Describing the partnership with Japan as “exemplary,” Duterte said both sides committed to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in contested waters of the South China Sea.
Both the Philippines and Japan have longstanding maritime disputes with China.
But Duterte said he made it clear that measures to achieve security and stability in the region should also include curbing piracy and other criminal activities at sea.
Duterte said previously he was open to joint maritime exercises with Japan.
“In all my interactions in Japan, it was clear to me and to everyone that Japan is, and will always be, a true friend of the Philippines. Considering our shared meaningful history and the amazing transformation of our relations to its excellent levels, my official visit was another defining moment for the solid and strategic partnership between our countries,” he said.
‘No contracts with China’
Also on Friday, Malacañang clarified that no contracts were signed with Chinese contractors during the President’s visit to China last week, just memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with Chinese companies for feasibility studies.
“Those MOUs are simply understandings that they can submit feasibility studies which are still be subject to public bidding and the necessary processes,” Abella told reporters.
He added that the MOUs were “not necessarily contracts or commitments to contract.”
The Palace official issued the statement after reports that the investment pledges bagged by the Philippines during President Duterte’s visit to China involved companies blacklisted by the World Bank.
China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) signed five MOUs with private companies and government agencies like the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
The World Bank banned CCCC and all its subsidiaries from engaging in any of its road and bridge projects until January 12, 2017 due to “fraudulent practices under Phase 1 of the Philippines National Roads Improvement and Management Project.”
China Road and Bridge Corp., which supposedly made an investment pledge, was banned by the World Bank for eight years beginning January 12, 2009, along with six other firms and one individual.