MANILA – A high-speed train going to the Clark Green City, a commuter rail line from Manila to Laguna and a Metro Manila subway – these three transport projects worth $8.8 billion are among the 14 infrastructure projects Japan is set to fund during the Duterte government’s 6-year term.

The most expensive of the three is the Metro Manila subway, which at $4.2 billion will give the metropolis a new rail service running from FTI in Taguig to North Edsa in Quezon City.

According to Secretary Ernesto Pernia, director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, “I would consider them flagship projects except for the subway. The first two – railway to Clark and from Manila to Los Baños – these are intended to disperse the development away from Metro Manila, which is already suffering from congestion.”

The country’s first underground railway will be rolled out first as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Public-Private Partnership center started feasibility studies during the previous administration.

Pernia said that for the subway system, “the project financial feasibility study is going to be completed by September and it is intended for signing in November at the ASEAN summit when both President Duterte and Prime Minister Abe will be together.”

Two big-ticket infrastructure projects would stem from Tutuban in Manila: a speed train going north to Clark in Pampanga; and a commuter line running south to Los Baños in Laguna.

The $1.9-billion high-speed railway to the Clark Green City will be an extension of the planned Tutuban to Malolos line that Tokyo is also funding.

The Manila to Los Baños railway, meanwhile, will cost $2.7 billion.

Power upgrade in Mindanao

The Japanese government also extended a P340 million grant to finance the upgrade of power distribution equipment in the Bangsamoro area of Mindanao

According to Secretary Susumu Ito, JICA chief representative, one of the concerns in the Bangsamoro is electricity loss from aging energy equipment built in the 70s. “By upgrading this equipmen, JICA therefore sees bright prospects in the Bangsamoro power supply issues” and such will “create more economic activities in the region.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged a 1-trillion-yen aid package for the Philippines when he visited the country earlier this year.

The Philippine government says it intends to make full use of that commitment through game-changing infrastructure projects.

31 March 2017
By Beverly Natividad, Bloomberg TV Philippines