A pleasant afternoon to everyone.
The second meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation was held this morning here in Manila, and it pleases me to inform you that we have made significant progress in finalizing the list of flagship cooperation projects in the Philippines for funding by Japan and identifying several others for possible Japanese financing, in step with the intensified public investment program of the Duterte Administration.
Today’s session was a follow-up to the first meeting held in Japan in March and it certainly was a fruitful one that had underscored the high level of support that the Japanese government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has committed to the socio-economic agenda of the government of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The Philippine side was headed by Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the NEDA and myself, while the Japanese side was led by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, who is Special Advisor to Prime Minister Abe.
Both sides discussed plans and actions to be undertaken in a mutually agreed schedule that will ensure the swift implementation of big-ticket projects. These include major projects on railways, flood management, and roads which are part of the “Build, Build, Build” program to decongest Metro Manila and further develop areas outside the National Capital Region, as well as cooperation on public safety including the anti-drug campaign of President Duterte.
Both sides have decided to continue holding expert-level consultations to address issues pertaining to proposed railway projects and to pinpoint solutions to ensure the smooth implementation of these ventures.
We have also discussed other possible pipeline projects that had been mutually identified during our first meeting. Both sides have agreed to continue working together in processing the projects that we hope to implement under the watch of President Duterte.
On top of these projects, we have also looked into possible Philippine-Japanese cooperation on sectors to be mutually agreed upon by both sides. These areas include power/energy, environment, agriculture, information and communication technology, and disaster prevention and preparedness.
The Japanese side also offered their sympathies to the victims of the earthquake in Leyte, Philippines and expressed their willingness to provide support if the Philippine side so requests. On the other hand, the Philippine side expressed their concern on those affected by a massive flood in Kyushu, south of Japan last night and conveyed our hope for their swift recovery.
We have agreed to continue discussions in a third meeting of the Joint Committee, the date and venue of which will be decided upon by both parties at a later date.
The progress achieved in the second meeting is testament to the rejuvenated relations between Manila and Tokyo under the governments of President Duterte and Prime Minister Abe. It vindicates the foreign policy rebalancing that President Duterte had put in place at the start of his administration that is anchored on the Philippines’ greater economic integration with its neighbors and other Asian countries.
These projects that we will be implementing with Japanese support will give a tremendous boost to the Duterte administration’s agenda to accelerate spending on programs meant to sustain the Philippines’ growth story and transform this country into an upper middle-income economy by the time the President leaves office in 2022.
Thank you. We are open to questions from the media.
A pleasant afternoon to everyone.