DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Japan is and will always be a true friend of the Philippines, said President Duterte as he cited gains from his three-day state visit to Tokyo.
Duterte arrived Thursday night at the Davao International Airport on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight.
“I discussed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in full detail the state of Philippines-Japan ties and we identified points of collaboration that would lead to a common path towards the achievement of shared objectives,” the President said.
The President stressed that by all counts and by any measure, the Philippines’ relation with Japan is excellent.
“And we agreed that we can take things to a higher level by harnessing our respective strengths and using these so both countries can have their economic strength further grow and our countries can continue to play their rightful role in the region,” he pointed out.
The President said Japan is in the position to remain as the Philippines’ top trading partner as more than $1.90 billion in trade deals had been signed during the visit, including one with Toyota Motors and Mitsubishi.
“Economic cooperation remains a linchpin between our dynamic relations. As I sought greater partnership to create an enabling environment for both our businesses to thrive, I encouraged private businesses in Japan to invest in the Philippines,” the President added.
The President likewise cited Japan’s being the No. 1 Official Development Assistance partner of the Philippines.
“We also agreed to harness Official Development Assistance to support inclusive growth and sustainable development in the country. Japan is our number one ODA partner and under the JICA, high-impact projects benefiting our urban and rural areas will be undertaken,” Duterte said, referring to the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The President also pointed out that Japan has been a supporter of the peace process in Mindanao. The bulk of Japan’s assistance to the Philippines goes to Mindanao.
“I sought and received Japan’s continued support for the peace and development agenda in Mindanao, as we move a step forward towards the goal of the just and lasting peace for the peoples of Mindanao and for our country,” the President further said.
Not outdoing each other
Earlier in Tokyo, Finance Secretary Carlos Domiguez downplayed an impression that China and Japan were trying to outdo each other in providing investments and loans to the Philippines after Duterte’s successive official trips to both countries.
“We want peace and friendship with everybody. It might look like competition but the goal is to integrate our economy more to ASEAN and north Asia – China, South Korea and Japan. All this including ASEAN is a two billion people market,” the finance chief said.
Dominguez is hoping the Philippines can achieve greater competitiveness in the region.
“We want something more like EU, or AFTA – Mexico US Canada – or South America. Even among friends you are competing. But we don’t want to compete, we want cooperation,” he said.
The President came home from China with about $24 billion in concessionary loans and investments.
“China said they will have available for Official Development Assistance $6 billion; for loans from Bank of China $3 billion; grant of $15 million. That is for the official side,” he said.
Beijing’s investment and loan is pegged at around $10 billion. “Then there is another $14 billion business-to-business Memorandum of Understanding,” Dominguez noted. In Japan, Dominguez said the B-to-B totaled $2 billion.