Duterte assures Japan-supported infra projects to be implemented immediately

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Nov) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has vowed to ensure that the infrastructure projects worth P456 billion that will be funded by the Japanese Government will be implemented in the country immediately.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte bids farewell to Japanese officials during his send-off at the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo following his two-day official visit. Photo courtesy of Simeon Celi Jr. / Malacañang photo

In a media briefing upon his arrival Tuesday evening from a two-day visit in Japan, Duterte said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to “give flesh” to Japan’s assistance program for the country under which “many more projects will be rolled off.”

He said they discussed Japan’s vital support in the key infrastructure projects under his administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program that will sustain the country’s economic growth and improve quality of life.

“I am committed to work closely with him to ensure projects proceed soonest and it will be done, done, done,” Duterte said.

He also thanked Japan for reaffirming its commitment in helping pursue just and lasting peace in Mindanao, as it vowed to work with the Philippine government in rebuilding Marawi as a “center of moderation and tolerance.”

The pledge from Japan also covers huge impact and high value infrastructure projects such as the Metro Manila Subway project, and major developments in the regions and provinces.

In a statement delivered during a joint press event at the Prime Minister’s Office on October 30, Abe vowed to provide maximum support for the restoration and reconstruction of Marawi City.

“We will strengthen support for Mindanao and toward the establishment of an autonomous government, we will respond to the progress of processing,” Abe added.

Duterte said they also discussed “concrete, time-bound and specific ways” to further intensify the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, as they build a “golden age” of the strategic partnership.

“We want our relations with Japan to grow even more. Japan is our friend closer than a brother. Japan treats us as its equal. Philippines will work with Japan in building something special for our nations and peoples,” he said.

The President also met with 83-year-old Akihito, the 125th Emperor of Japan, in Tokyo.

“I conveyed to his majesty our nation’s and people’s deep appreciation, gratitude to Japan’s continuing friendship and support for the Philippines’ peace and development goals,” Duterte said.

During his meeting with Japanese business leaders in Tokyo, he said business deals worth P309.6 billion were signed.

He said this was “more than three times the amount of business agreements sealed” during his first Japan visit in October 2016.

Duterte said he also encouraged them to explore other opportunities in the country, most especially in steel manufacturing, agribusiness, information technology and creative services.

He said those Japanese investors are “in a hurry” to finish their projects within Duterte’s term.

But Duterte said he hopes that no trouble will spark in the Korean Peninsula because if tension would escalate it would put everything “back to pigeon hole.”

Abe added the two countries agreed to cooperate to address common issues in the region such as North Korea nuclear and missile threat, terrorism and illegal drugs, and concerns on abduction to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Duterte said they will work in making the “waters free and open to our peoples so that we can enjoy our rich natural maritime resources.”

He said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) may hold joint maritime exercise with the Japanese because it “is purely civilian” and is tasked primarily with enforcing laws within the Philippine waters. He said it is under the Department of Transportation.

Abe said the “mobile cooperation team which was launched this month by the Coast Guard to support capacity building next month will be conducting training exercises in Manila.”

He said the Coast Guards of Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia will also participate toward the realization of an Indo-Pacific Region that is free and open.

“We hope that this will be a model case for cooperation,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)