March 14, 2023
Courtesy call on Vice President Duterte
Speech at the BTA Parliament
Site visit at Kibleg Elementary School
Meeting with BTA Ministers
Visit to Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Tanaka Akihiko declared the agency’s strong support for the Philippines’ development efforts during his official visit to the country from January 17 to 21, 2023. He met many dignitaries, including Vice President of the Philippines Sara Duterte-Carpio and Executive Secretary of the President Lucas Bersamin, to exchange views, deepen mutual understanding, and strengthen cooperation between the Philippines and Japan. In addition, he visited Cotabato City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). As the first foreign national to give a speech at the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament, he received the special honor of a resolution of appreciation and commendation for JICA’s cooperation on the Mindanao Peace Process.
In a meeting between President Tanaka and Vice President Duterte, the latter expressed her appreciation for JICA's more than 50 years of cooperation, citing development projects in Davao City and the agency’s contribution to the Mindanao Peace Process. She then expressed her hopes for JICA's continued cooperation in addressing the country's diverse challenges in development. In response, President Tanaka showed a strong willingness to support the Philippines, in line with the country’s development plan, and reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to further strengthen relations through such cooperation.
Meanwhile, during President Tanaka’s courtesy visit, Executive Secretary Bersamin said that Japan is the Philippines’ most reliable partner. He stated that he is particularly looking forward to JICA's cooperation in infrastructure development and road traffic congestion mitigation in Metro Manila.
On a separate occasion, President Tanaka also exchanged opinions on the importance of deepening the cooperation of the two countries with Secretary of Budget and Management Amenah F. Pangandaman, Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (Secretary) Carlito Galvez Jr., and Secretary of Public Works and Highways Manuel Bonoan, emphasizing the need to promote the Mindanao Peace Process and to cooperate in the fields of infrastructure, maritime affairs, and disaster prevention.
For the site visits in Manila, President Tanaka rode the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3), which was renovated through a JICA ODA loan, and confirmed the improvement in operation speed and intervals. He also visited the site of the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project, which was proven to reduce flood damage in the area. Furthermore, he boarded the 97-m multi-role response vessel, provided to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) through JICA ODA loans, and affirmed the importance of strengthening the maritime security capabilities of the Philippines, located as it is in a sea lane that is indispensable to Japan.
President Tanaka also visited Cotabato City, where he delivered a speech at the BTA Parliament. In his speech, he praised the BTA for its steady advancement of the peace process in cooperation with the Government of the Philippines (GOP) and conveyed that JICA will continue to cooperate with the Bangsamoro people in order to consolidate peace. After the speech, the BTA Parliament introduced the resolution commending and recognizing JICA and President Tanaka for their support and contribution to the BARMM. Furthermore, President Tanaka met with Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim and other BTA Ministers, and was given insights into the new Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP-2).
Additionally, President Tanaka visited the site of the JICA Quick Impact Project in Upi, North Maguindanao to meet the beneficiaries of the project at Kibleg Elementary School, as well as agricultural training participants under the "Comprehensive Capacity Development Project (CCDP)". Since the signing of a Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro between the GOP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014, JICA has constructed an elementary school building and community centers in the region, speeding up the peace dividends of the peace process, and now provides livelihood support to the Bangsamoro people, including ex-combatants.
JICA will continue to expand its cooperation to further consolidate peace in Mindanao. It will do so by supporting the transition process and improving the livelihoods of Bangsamoro people. JICA will also enhance resilience against natural disasters to a greater extent through infrastructure and institutional development, and strengthen support for mid- to long-term regional development planning.