LAPU-LAPU CITY: An initial loan agreement for the construction of Metro Manila’ first subway will be signed by the Philippines and Japan next month, the Finance department announced on Monday.
“The first tranche for the loan for the Metro Manila Subway is due for signing in March 2018. Both sides agreed to work towards the partial operability of the subway line by 2022 at the latest,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd told reporters following a meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort.
The Finance department had originally expected the signing, which it said would be contingent on Monetary Board approval and the issuance of a special presidential authority, to be held before the end of last month.
It said the first tranche would amount to 104.5 billion yen or about $921 billion.
Economic managers recently raised the estimated cost of the subway project to P356.96 billion from P355.6 billion.
Construction is expected to start sometime this year and completion has been targeted for 2027.
The first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project will run from Mindanao Ave. in Quezon City through the Food Terminal Complex in Taguig City and end at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque City. It is expected to help decongest traffic on EDSA and connect major business centers in Metro Manila to the country’s premier international gateway.
During the infrastructure committee meeting, top Philippine and Japanese officials also agreed to steadily implement joint bilateral commitments, particularly those involving the implementation of big-ticket infrastructure projects.
“The Philippine side discussed the progress on the right-of-way acquisition and land resettlement, institutional arrangements on procurement, establishment of project monitoring offices, budget allocation for government counterpart and measures to address cross-sectoral concerns,” the Finance department said in a statement.
Japan, meanwhile, presented measures to “fast-track project/loan processing and implementation,” which include shortening the review period for procurement and providing grant support for advanced detailed design work.
Dominguez said both sides were also looking forward to the signing of an exchange of notes for the financing of the Davao City Waste-to-Energy project as well as loan financing packages for the Pasig-Marikina Channel Improvement Project Phase IV and the Metro Rail Transit-3 Rehabilitation and Improvement Project in the coming months after all internal approvals are completed.
For the Philippine National Railway (PNR) North 2 (Malolos-Clark) and PNR South Commuter (Manila-Los Baños) lines, officials agreed to continue trilateral consultations on the co-financing among the Philippine government, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Asian Development Bank in order to achieve partial operation of the North-South rail section by 2022.
The Finance department also said that required internal government approvals for the signing of the loan agreement for the Arterial Road Bypass Project Phase III in Bulacan had been secured.
Dominguez and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia headed the Philippine side during the joint committee meeting while the Japanese delegation was headed by Hiroto Izumi, who is a special advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
During the meeting, Izumi issued assurances of continued Japanese support.
“We would like to provide sustainable development,” he said during his opening remarks.
Documents signed during the meeting included a record of discussions between the Department of Finance, National Economic and Development Authority and Japan; a memorandum of cooperation for the New Clark City project between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport Urban and Development fund and Singapore’s Surbana Jurong; and a memorandum of cooperation between the Department of Information and Communications Technology and Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications involving technical assistance for the National Broadband Plan.
Dominguez said that Tokyo’s assistance extended to the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi, with heavy equipment from Japan expected to arrive nex month.
Pernia, meanwhile, said discussions also involved a study for a Cebu bus rapid transport system, a new Mandaue-Mactan bridge and the transformation of Cebu into a smart city.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said proposals for a dual-mode Mandaue-Mactan Bridge were being studied.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, for his part, said the government was targeting partial and full operability timelines as many projects, including the Metro Manila Subway, will be completed well beyond the Duterte government’s term.
“We will shorten the adoption of innovative approaches, achieve the completion date, shorter time frames without sacrificing quality and incurring additional cost,” he added.
WITH A REPORT FROM RHEA RUTH ROSELL