THE PHILIPPINE and Japanese governments on Sunday signed an exchange-of-notes for the construction of 150 kilometers of roads and 40 bridges worth PHP24 billion under the Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao.
In a ceremony held at Marco Polo Hotel here, Department of Foreign (DFA) Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin affixed his signature on behalf of the Philippine government while Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono signed for the government of Japan.
The Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), committed to a loan provision of USD202 million of the project cost.
The road network development project is set to enhance transportation capacity and efficiency in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. It will also improve access roads and logistics and enhance economic activities.
Locsin said the government is focusing on Mindanao, taking stock on the progress in broad areas of fruitful cooperation.
“Japan is in the forefront of the road to the realization of Mindanao’s important step towards a great promise,” the DFA chief said in his message.
He said the road project is an important step towards the goal of allowing communities — especially those of Bangsamoro people who have been affected by armed conflict — to enjoy the dividends of peace.
Kono, for his part, said Japan welcomed the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law last month.
He said his country has been consistent in supporting the Mindanao peace process for more than 10 years now.
“Japan will contribute to the developing the road network in Mindanao to improve access to schools and hospitals and revitalizing the economic activities,” he said.
“Japan will support efforts to ensure peace and stability,” Kono said, adding that it will also back job creation and livelihood improvement of the people in Mindanao, including the former combatants of the Moro Islamic liberation Front (MILF).
Japan also commits to contributing to the capacity building of the transitional authority and smooth implementation of the decommissioning and disarmament of MILF combatants as these are crucial steps in the peace process.
“Japan is ready to extend support to the peace process,” Kono further said.
Among other things, Locsin and Kono also discussed the bilateral and enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries. (Lilian Mellejor)
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