Japan still Philippines’ top top source of ODA — Duterte

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 October) – Japan will strengthen her support to the Philippines’ goal of attaining inclusive growth and sustainable development through the Official Development Assistance, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said Thursday.

Duterte, in his arrival speech at the F. Bangoy International Airport, said that Japan remains as the country’s top donor for ODA that funds high-impact projects in both urban and rural areas of the country.

“Japan is our number one ODA partner and under JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency, high-impact projects benefiting both our urban and rural areas will be undertaken,” he said.

On Wednesday, after the Japan-Philippines Summit Meeting, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa and Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. signed and exchanged notes concerning two yen loan projects amounting to 21.383 billion yen.

The two projects are the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard (Phase II) and Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST).

The first project aims to construct two patrol ships for the Philippine Coast Guard and improve its capabilities “to quickly and appropriately respond to maritime incidents, such as search and rescue, and maritime law enforcement.

It is expected that this cooperation will contribute to the enhancement of the maritime safety of the Republic of Philippines.”

HARVEST aims “to promote activities that contribute to the creation of employment opportunities and the enhancement of household income through the improvement of access to financing and the vitalization of economic activities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and its environs by providing necessary funds for investment in plant and equipment, operating capital, etc. to private businesses and agricultural cooperatives there. It is expected that this cooperation will contribute to peace and development in that region.”

“It was clear to me and to everyone that Japan is, and will always be, a true friend of the Philippines,” Duterte said.

He said his three-day state visit there was another defining moment for the solid and strategic partnership, with the shared meaningful history and transformation of the relations between the Philippines and Japan to excellent levels.

“This relationship stands on unshakable and firm ground, cemented with mutual trust and respect,” he added.

Duterte said both countries acknowledged the importance of vibrant political and defense exchanges for a stable and secure environment by enhancing capabilities in maritime security and maritime domain awareness.

He stressed that Japan will play a vital role in modernizing the Philippines’ capacities as a nation with maritime interests to protect.

“The acquisition of more maritime and air capability assets are crucial in addressing traditional and emerging threats to our nations, including piracy, criminality at sea and terrorism, as well as in responding to disasters,” he said.

Republic Act 8182 defines ODA as loans or grants administered with the objective of promoting sustainable social and economic development and welfare of the Philippines.

It adds: “ODA resources must be contracted with governments of foreign countries with whom the Philippines has diplomatic, trade relations or bilateral agreements or which are members of the United Nations, their agencies and international or multilateral lending institutions.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)