Japan pledges $8.7-billion aid package to PH

MANILA, Philippines – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to give the Philippines $8.66 billion (1 trillion yen) in aid, which would be spread over 5 years.

He himself announced this on Thursday, January 12, at Malacañang Palace, as he began his two-day official visit.

The money will come from official development assistance (ODA) and private-sector investments geared toward infrastructure projects such as construction of subways, among others.

"We will pledge business opportunities through ODA and private investments which will amount to 1 trillion yen for the next 5 years," Abe said in his press statement.

Aside from this, Japan has also vowed to establish rehabilitation facilities to support Duterte's campaign against illegal drug use. 

The two leaders also agreed on the need to enforce the United Nations resolution on North Korea's missile and nuclear development.

Abe is the first head of government to visit the Philippines under Duterte. He and his wife are set to go to Davao City on Friday to meet with business leaders.

Abe last visited the Philippines in November 2015 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. In October 2016, Duterte went on a state visit to Japan and was met by the prime minister.

South China Sea

During the meeting, both Duterte and Abe affirmed the importance of the rule of law and the non-militarization of the South China Sea. Both the Philippines and Japan claim parts of the contested waters.

Abe said he welcomes the closer ties between the Philippines and China amid the arbitral ruling favoring the former. Duterte has been warmer to China compared to his predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III.

Still, the two governments signed a memorandum of cooperation involving the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Japan Coast Guard to promote maritime safety and security through joint exercises, patrol and aircraft visits, and capacity enhancement.

During the President's trip to Japan last October, the Philippine government secured a multi-billion-peso loan and multi-million-peso grant to beef up boats and equipment of the PCG.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) agreed to loan the Philippines 16.5 billion yen (P6.8 billion, $158 million) for the acquisition of two 94-meter, large-scale patrol vessels.

Bilateral agreements

The Japanese and the Philippine governments signed a total of 5 agreements, mainly on agriculture and maritime security.

The 5 deals signed are the following:

  • Exchange of Notes on the Grant Aid Economic and Social Development Program, which involves the grant of 600 million yen or $5.2 million for high-speed boats and other counter-terrorism equipment for the PCG
  • Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on the Low Carbon Growth Partnership/Joint Crediting Mechanism, which involves the creation of a joint committee to establish the basis through which the Philippines and Japan will promote investments and the use of technologies, products, systems, services, and infrastructure to achieve low carbon growth in the Philippines
  • MOC between the PCG and the Japan Coast Guard, which involves maritime cooperation to promote maritime safety, security, and marine environment protection (joint exercises, visits by patrol vessels and aircraft, capacity enhancement)
  • MOC between the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for the proof of concept and testing of road traffic information system through data broadcasting
  • Loan Agreement and Guarantee Letter for Harvesting Agribusiness opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST). Harvest is a 5-year project of the Land Bank of the Philippines which will finance eligible investments of agribusiness enterprises, farmers' organizations or cooperatives in support of agriculture and fisheries production in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

– Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com