PH, Japan slate high-level infra meeting on Feb. 16

The Philippines and Japan have scheduled their 12th high-level meeting on infrastructure development and economic cooperation on February 16 via teleconferencing. The meeting will focus on the accomplishments on the latter’s supported big-ticket projects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature “Build, Build, Build” Program. 

The Philippines-Japan High Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation meeting will center on the body’s substantive feat on such projects like the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP), North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project, rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), Dalton Pass East Alignment Road, Central Mindanao Highway, and the Parañaque Spillway project, among others. 

To chair the Philippine side during the meeting is Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. Mori Masafumi, Special Advisor to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, will lead the Japanese side.  

In this week’s meeting, the two sides will provide updates on the financing extended by Japan for the Philippines’ Covid-19 response programs and the progress of the Japan-funded programs in support of the Mindanao peace process. 

Japan has been actively supporting these peace-building programs through the framework of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD). 

Through various international organizations, Japan also provided the Philippines last month with a US$13-million emergency grant aid for the implementation of humanitarian assistance activities for the victims of Typhoon Odette that devastated thousands of communities in the Visayas and Northern Mindanao. 

In July 8 last year, the Philippines received a shipment of over 1 million AstraZeneca doses donated by the Japanese government which, since the start of the pandemic, has been in close cooperation with Philippine officials in helping contain the spread of Covid-19. 

These Japan-backed projects to help curb the spread of the virus include the Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan (CRESL), the Post-Disaster Standby Loan Phase 2 (PDSL 2), the joint clinical trial for the anti-flu drug Avigan, procurement of medical equipment and establishment of laboratory surveillance sites, and the development of a cold chain system in the Philippines.

The first meeting of the high-level committee was held in March 2017 in Tokyo. It was part of the commitment made two months earlier by then-Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to  provide one trillion yen (about US$9 billion) in financing support to the Philippines over the next five years, and to establish a Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation to coordinate this assistance.

This commitment was completed in July 2021 under the administration of then-Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was the Chief Cabinet Secretary during Prime Minister Abe’s term.