4 March 2016
Promotion of the peace process in Mindanao and support for major infrastructure projects in the Philippines were the focus of discussions during a courtesy call paid by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Shinichi Kitaoka on President Benigno S. Aquino III in Malacañang.
In a statement made by Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. after the courtesy call, he said that the Philippines and Japan will continue to work closely as partners in promoting the peace process in Mindanao and in pushing major infrastructure projects to attain inclusive, long-term economic growth and development.
Coloma said the focal point of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) is the five-year Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities Through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST) Project that provides funding and technical support to micro-, small- and medium-scale industries in agriculture, fisheries and related services.
“As of mid-2015, total assistance under J-BIRD reached P6.1 billion. Additionally, the World Bank and JICA have committed to provide up to US$250 million in loan funds to support the HARVEST Project. Total credit assistance is expected to exceed P11.1 billion and employment generation for about 21,700 individuals,” he said.
President Aquino likewise expressed his confidence that a Bangsamoro Basic Law may be enacted within the next two years to sustain the momentum of the peace process, Coloma added.
The JICA chief reiterated the agency’s support for projects like the North-South Railway Project North Line from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban, Manila, which is the single biggest official development assistance yen loan package from Japan at US$2 billion, and P7.1-billion Bohol international airport in Panglao that is set to be completed in December 2017.
Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa, JICA Philippine Office Chief Representative Noriaki Niwa, JICA Office of the President Director-General Takumi Ueshima, Southeast Asia and Pacific Private Sector Partnership Division Director-General Yasushi Tanaka, Southeast Asia Division 5 Director Jin Wakabayashi, PH Office Senior Representatives Yuko Tanaka and Takahiro Morita accompanied Kitaoka.
On the Philippine side, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, National Economic and Development Authority Acting Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra, Finance Undersecretary Jeremias Paul, and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jesus Yabes were also present during the call.
Shinichi Kitaoka became JICA’s new president on October 1 2015, succeeding Akihiko Tanaka. Before assuming the present post, he was President of the International University of Japan.
* * *