MANILA – Outgoing President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday expressed gratitude to the Japanese government for supporting the Philippine’s economic development, particularly in efforts to complete the country’s first-ever Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP).
“May I express my gratitude again to the Japanese government for partnering with the Philippines to make this dream a reality. I am also grateful to have the Japan International Cooperation Agency as an ally in nation-building particularly in initiatives that will benefit our citizens and accelerate our country’s economic development,” Duterte said in his speech after witnessing the lowering of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) of MMSP at the MMSP Compound in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City.
Duterte said he wondered why Japan seemed to love the Philippines.
“I cannot seem to fathom the love of the Japanese people for this republic. There are so many projects going on in the country and being pushed and sponsored by the JICA. That is the overseas assistance nila (That is their overseas assistance),” he added.
The Japanese government, he said, practically treated the Philippines as part of its own.
“Japan has continued to help us to the extent that iyong ibang -- pati ng (even) Davao City, the new highway and the bridge and everything, it would seem really that we are a part of the Japanese government. Para bang isang probinsiya tayo (It is as if we are one province). We are the -- you know, being treated as almost a part of Japan that should be developed in due time,” he said.
In February, the Philippines and Japan signed the 253.3 billion yen (PHP112.1 billion) loan agreement for the Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1.
This is the second tranche of the official development assistance loan which follows Tokyo's first tranche funding of 104.53 billion yen, which was signed in March 2018.
The funding agreement carries an interest rate of 0.1 percent per annum and a repayment period of 40 years, inclusive of a 12-year grace period.
“Alam mo 'pag ganoon ang obligasyon mo, it is really gratis na 'yan (You know if that is the obligation, it’s really a gratis already). It's a gift from the Japanese people to the people of the Philippines,” Duterte added.
Pursue big-ticket projects
Meanwhile, he also urged the incoming administration of President elect-Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to continue pursuing big-ticket projects, noting that these are necessary to sustain economic recovery.
“I now call on my fellow workers in government, especially those who will take on the reins of power and those who will remain once I step ahead of office, to continue to dream and pursue big-ticket projects that will sustain our ongoing economic recovery and realize goals and aspirations of our people,” he said.
He is optimistic that the MMSP would benefit the commuters as it reduces travel time between Quezon City and Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from one hour and 10 minutes to just 35 minutes.
“It will truly help the commuting public especially those coming from Quezon City going to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to experience the convenience and comfort of a fast, efficient, and modern transportation system. It will likewise allow travelers to save much time and energy, thereby giving them opportunities to become more productive and more focused on other worthwhile endeavors,” he said.
Duterte also congratulated the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Transport Secretary Arthur “Art” Tugade and partners for making “significant progress” of the MMSP.
The MMSP is the Philippines’ first underground railway system and one of the monumental projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
The subway project will cater to 14 to 16 stations and is expected to be completed in 2025. Partial operation of the first three stations is set in 2022.
Once completed, the MMSP will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to NAIA. (PNA)