Japan to give P676-M loan for Marawi rehab

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Japanese government has committed to provide a P676-million (¥1.5-billion) loan to the Philippines for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City, the Department of Finance (DOF) said over the weekend.

Vietnam, for its part, has promised to donate rice.

Offshore gaming companies given licenses by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) will also build more than 600 temporary shelters for hundreds of families displaced by the five-month war.

According to the DOF’s International Finance Group (IFG), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will receive the Japanese loan in the form of heavy equipment and machineries for the reconstruction of the ravaged city.

These equipment include bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks, the IFG said.

The IFG said Manila and Tokyo will soon sign the exchange of notes on the project intended for Marawi rehabilitation.

Aside from Japan, China, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have also expressed their intent to support the rehabilitation program.

Rice assistance

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who was part of the delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit held in Vietnam last week, said the ASEAN neighbor pledged an initial 4,000 bags of rice for Marawi.

A major rice exporter, Vietnam provides about five percent of the Philippines’ overall rice demand.

“In return, President Duterte promised to release Vietnamese fishermen who were caught by the Philippine Navy poaching in the country’s fishing grounds,” Piñol said.

Vietnamese fishermen rank second among those who encroach Philippine fishing waters, the first being Taiwanese nationals.

Vietnam has assured the Philippines that it will continue to support the country’s agricultural development initiatives, particularly on the supply of rice requirements.

Bakwit Village

The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) Group in partnership with Pagcor, meanwhile, is seeking to establish Bakwit Village, a three-hectare community featuring 16 to 18-square-meter modular units and houses made of light wooden materials to serve as temporary shelters in Matungao, Lanao del Norte.

By this year, the first phase of the project, composed of 300 housing units, is expected to be awarded to families forced to flee Marawi and who lost their homes when fighting erupted between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorist group in May this year.

Scheduled to be turned over by the first quarter of 2018 is an additional 320 units, 50 of which will be utilized as commercial spaces for livelihood purposes.

The recipients of the temporary shelters were identified by representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) assigned to various evacuation centers.

More than P124 million was allocated for the construction of the housing units, which costs P200,000 each. The turnover of the shelters will be handled by the Marawi local government.

Meanwhile, in support of Duterte’s efforts to rehabilitate the city, the POGO Group also donated funds to help in the repair of mosques and Catholic churches that were destroyed during the war.

Other agreements

Aside from the Marawi rehabilitation program, the Philippines will also sign another agreement with the Japanese government to strengthen the capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in ensuring maritime safety.

This aid will come in the form of equipment, including radar systems, closed circuit televisions and radio systems, which would help strengthen the agency’s maritime safety and counterterrorism efforts.

During Duterte’s official visit to Japan last year, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) president Shinichi Kitaoka formalized several agreements that would help improve the country’s maritime safety capability, including a ¥16.5-billion (P6.8 billion) concessional loan for the acquisition of two large-scale patrol vessels for the PCG.

The loan was part of Tokyo’s continuing assistance to the PCG’s Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP). Japan also committed to provide a grant for the procurement of 10 units of 40-meter PCG patrol vessels.

Five of the vessels have been delivered to the Philippines as of June 2017.

Another ¥600-million aid was extended by Tokyo for the procurement of high-speed boats and other equipment to boost the Philippines’ anti-terrorism and security efforts.

Apart from Vietnam, the Russian government also agreed to strengthen agricultural trade as well as military ties.

Piñol said Russia is interested in the importation of agriculture products, especially fruits and marine products from the Philippines.

“Russia also offered military hardware, including helicopters and even a submarine for the Philippine Armed Forces,” he added.

Both countries are expected to concretize their agricultural relationship by the first quarter of 2018, following the agriculture cooperation agreement they signed last May.

The inspection of processing facilities will also commence by the early part of next year and the Philippines is expected to export high value crops including bananas, mangoes and fishery products.

The Philippines, on the other hand, will look into their wheat, grains and farm machineries.

To recall, Russia has pledged to buy $2.5 billion worth of agricultural products from the Philippines.

Top export product to Russia is carrageenan, seaweed and other algae; while petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals are the top imports from Russia.

In 2015, Russia ranked 31st out of 223 trade partners and is the Philippines’ 44th largest export market and 27th largest source of imports. – With Rainier Allan Ronda

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