TOKYO –Philippine officials have assured their Japanese counterparts that Malacañang is working fast to ensure the speedy implementation of Japan-funded projects in support of the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs and promotion of agribusiness investments in Mindanao.
In a recent meeting here with top officials of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Tokyo, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Philippine government expects to immediately begin construction of drug rehabilitation centers through a JICA grant amounting to 1.85 billion yen.
Another JICA-funded initiative –Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST) Project in Mindanao –is now on the final stages of securing all the requirements necessary to formalize a memorandum of agreement between the Department of Finance (DOJ) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank), which will implement this project.
“We are grateful that Japan is also supporting our campaign against illegal drugs by providing a JICA grant to the Department of Health for the treatment and rehabilitation of illegal drug users,” Dominguez said in the meeting with JICA officials.
The JICA side was led by its president Shinichi Kitaoka and senior vice president Shinya Ejima.
“We hope to immediately implement the 1.850 billion yen grant to construct drug rehabilitation centers,” Dominguez added.
Dominguez said the grant “is the first of its kind from Japan to the Philippines that is of a budgetary support in nature.”
The 1.85 billion yen grant forms part of the 3.8 billion yen (USD 33 million) JICA grant to support the Duterte administration’s programs to win the war against illegal drugs, improve public security and its counterterrorism efforts, and forge lasting peace and development in Mindanao.
On the Mindanao-HARVEST Project, Dominguez told JICA that “we are now finalizing the LBP-DOF memorandum of agreement and we expect to secure all requirements for the MOA to take effect by middle of next month.”
Dominguez, on behalf of the Philippine government, thanked Japan for its financial assistance to these programs.
The LandBank and the Japanese government signed a loan agreement worth almost 5 billion yen to fund the five-year HARVEST project in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and other conflict-affected areas in the southern Philippines during the official visit of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Philippines last January.