MANILA -- The Japanese government will provide an additional 22 emergency vehicles to the Philippines on top of the 54 units it turned over to Visayas and Mindanao under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) in the country.

Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda on March 23 attended the grant contract signing of “The Project for Providing Emergency Vehicles to 20 Local Government Units in Luzon,” which was held simultaneously with the turnover of 17 units to Mindanao in Davao City.

Two fire trucks, 14 ambulance and a rescue truck were turned over to 15 municipalities in Mindanao as part of Japan's USD250,247 worth of grant in 2016.

The turnover of vehicles and the signing of the new Luzon GGP bring to 76 emergency vehicles worth USD998,357 the total number of units Tokyo has donated.

The first two projects in 2014 and 2015 provided at least 37 units to Visayas. As marked by the signing of the fourth and latest project, the partnership between the Embassy of Japan and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has further expanded in Luzon.

The BFP, as one of the agencies in the forefront of disaster response in the country, has an insufficient number of emergency vehicles at its fire stations to deliver its mandate. This shortage became apparent during super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

The embassy said it hopes to assist the BFP in addressing this shortage through these projects.

"Through these projects, the BFP will be able to improve its emergency services response thus complementing the efforts being made by Japan in improving disaster risk reduction and management in the Philippines," it said.

It is expected that a total of 6.6 million people in Mindanao and three million in Luzon will benefit from the project.

The March 23 ceremony, spearheaded by the BFP, was attended by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, and BFP Chief Leonard Bañago.

Mayors of recipient local government units and around 200 fire fighters also attended the event.

The government of Japan, as the top ODA donor for the Philippines, launched the GGP in the Philippines in 1989 to reduce poverty and help various communities engaged in grassroots activities.

To date, 534 grassroots projects have been funded. (PNA)