President Rodrigo Duterte has reaffirmed to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the strong relationship of the Philippines with Japan, with the two countries exchanging notes on proposed infrastructure projects, and economic and social development programs.
Duterte and Abe met during a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Manila on Monday.
“There’s a thing here that says that I should reaffirm, and I am reaffirming this by [stating]in the strongest possible language that we have a very strong bond. It’s almost a sentimental attachment for many years,” Duterte said in his speech during the meeting.
The President then reiterated his appreciation for the support of Japan during the recent armed conflict in Marawi City.
He also expressed his gratitude to Abe for turning over trainer aircraft, machinery and radar to the Philippines.
“We are aware that you have been helping us, especially in Marawi even during the siege and we appreciate it very much. In behalf of the people of Marawi, I’d like to thank you again,” Duterte said.
The President also thanked the Japanese government for making it possible for him to have an audience with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko during his official visit to Japan last month.
“One of the things that I would, maybe, remember for all time,” Duterte said of the rare opportunity to meet the imperial couple.
During the bilateral meeting, Duterte and Abe witnessed the exchange of notes between several agencies of the Philippines and Japan.
The two leaders first witnessed the exchange of notes for the Metro Manila subway project between Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kojie Haneda.
The Japanese government intends to provide 104.53 billion yen (approximately P46 billion) for the first phase of the project, which is expected to transport approximately 500,000 passengers per day in 2027 or two years after the completion of the project.
The subway will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to Food Terminal Inc. in Taguig City and may be extended to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The Philippines and Japan also exchanged notes on the arterial bypass road along the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway in Plaridel, Bulacan, and on economic and social development programs.
The grant includes provision of equipment for the rehabilitation of Marawi City for the Department of Public Works and Highways and coast watch radars to increase the Philippine Coast Guard’s anti-terrorism capabilities in Western Mindanao.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative in the Philippines Susumu Ito had an exchange of loan agreements on the Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project.
Department of National Defense Undersecretary for Finance, Ammunitions, Installations and Materials Raymundo Elefante and Commissioner Yoshiyuki Suzuki of the Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency signed the Amended Letter of Arrangement on the transfer of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force trainer aircraft TC-90s.
In October 2017, Japan pledged a total of 1 trillion yen or roughly P456 billion worth of economic assistance for the infrastructure projects in the Philippines by exchanging notes on the provision of a yen loan.
A portion of the 1-trillion yen financial package includes a 104.53-billion yen loan for the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project, aimed at solving the transportation and traffic congestion problem in the Philippine capital.
About P356 billion (800-billion yen) is needed to complete the entire subway project and Japan, known for its high-speed bullet trains and efficient transportation system, might provide more aid to complete the project.
For this loan package, Japan has agreed to a 0.1 percent per annum rate of interest, payable for 28 years after a grace period of 12 years.