As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up his two-day visit in the country yesterday, President Duterte’s economic managers were upbeat about the administration’s unprecedented feat in three months after Tokyo matched Beijing’s $9-billion grant to the Philippines.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez are elated about the outcome of Duterte’s accomplishments for the grant and investments portfolio in the country.
“I think that PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) has raised the highest amount in ODA (official development assistance) in Philippine history – about $9 billion each from China and Japan. This is the biggest I think in history,” Dominguez said.
Lopez, in a separate message, shared the same view as he pointed out that the country gained $18 billion in only three months from Beijing and Tokyo.
Duterte has been in office for about six months.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the Japan aid package is significant in the wake of the US-led Millennium Challenge Corp. decision to suspend its grant to the country.
Prior to Abe’s visit, National Economic and Development Authority director general Ernesto Pernia talked about the competition between China and Japan in getting on the good side of the Philippines, saying, “Japan, in principle, is interested in funding other projects as well. They are competing with China.”
During his state visit to Japan last year, Duterte brought home investment commitments worth $1.85 billion from private companies, plus a verbal pledge from Japanese conglomerate Marubeni to invest $17.2 billion in the water, power and infrastructure sectors of the country.
When he visited Beijing last year, Duterte landed $24 billion in aid pledges after he adopted a pivot to China, and put on the back burner an arbitration ruling on the South China Sea that invalidated China’s claims.
Lopez said Abe’s visit in Davao City helps build investor confidence in Mindanao.
“This is really something because we are showing the Japanese investors that there are more areas that they could pour in their resources in Mindanao. We are showing them that Mindanao is a good investment area for them,” Lopez said.
According to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, there are about 901 Japanese companies that have located in the different special economic areas in the country.
Japan is the country’s second biggest source of ODA, next to the World Bank.
Eager for cooperation
Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura explained that one trillion yen is at the level of support for business creation and opportunities in the Philippines for the next five years.
It included the Japanese ODA and Japanese private investments.
“The crux, the bottom line of this announcement is that Japan is very eager to promote cooperation for the business and the economic development of the Philippines by utilizing all those available resources,” Kawamura said.
In his speech in Malacañang, Abe reaffirmed Tokyo’s commitment to help the Philippines in terms of nation building.
“We will leverage Japanese technology and know-how to the fullest extent to positively cooperate for the improvement of infrastructure in Metro Manila and the whole of the Philippines,” Abe said.
Japan has provided the ODA of approximately $20 billion to the Philippines for the past several years.
“And to follow this up, Japan will support the equipment and installation and the development of the treatment programs and human capacity building,” Kawamura said in a briefing Thursday evening in Malacañang.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency also extends 4.9 billion yen (about $43 million) in ODA to support Mindanao’s agriculture sector under the agency’s yen loan scheme.