MANILA, May 16 -- Manila and Tokyo signed Tuesday (May 15, 2018) an agreement that would provide the Philippine government with a 2-billion yen grant from Japan to support ongoing efforts for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the devastated city of Marawi in Mindanao.
The agreement was signed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on behalf of the Philippines, and Yoshio Wada, the chief representative in the Philippines of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), on behalf of Japan.
Dominguez said the Philippine government has so far identified 902 priority projects and activities for the rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi City and its surrounding areas, which are estimated to cost a total of P55 billion, with close to half of the funding to be drawn from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Project Fund.
The other sources of financing for these priority projects under the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (BMCRRP) approved in early April will come from the various government agencies, the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the city government of Marawi, non-government organizations, development partners, and the private sector, Dominguez said.
He said the government is also considering holding a pledging session similar to what was done after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) to help fund Marawi's reconstruction efforts.
The government is also continuing discussions with JICA on drawing funds from the 2-billion yen grant to finance several projects identified under the BMCRRP, Dominguez said.
According to the Department of Finance (DOF), the 'Grant Agreement for the Programme for the Support for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Marawi City and Its Surrounding Areas' signed today will cover infrastructure projects, particularly the construction of transcentral roads that need to be rebuilt immediately in the war-ravaged communities.
This grant (approximately $18.66 million or about P970 million), is the fourth aid package provided by Japan to the Philippines following earlier grants that include the provision of heavy equipment for Marawi City's reconstruction program that was formalized on Nov. 12 last year between the two governments.
"I would like to assure the ambassador and the chief representative of JICA that we are very keenly aware that these funds come from the taxpayers of Japan, and that we will honor them by not wasting those funds," Dominguez said after the signing of the 2-billion yen grant agreement.
Japan has so far provided the Philippines an estimated US$36 million to assist in Marawi's relief and rehabilitation.
"On behalf of the Philippine Government, I express profound gratitude for the generous support by the Government of Japan to the great task of rebuilding the City of Marawi," Dominguez said.
The infrastructure projects covered by the grant will be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which serves as vice-chair of the interagency Task Force Bangon Marawi.
Also present at the signing of the grant agreement at the DOF Main Office in Manila were DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain; Task Force Bangon Marawi chairperson Eduardo del Rosario, who heads the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC); and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda.
"I believe that all these initiatives, we affirm Japan's commitment to the Philipines as a special friend, and closer than a brother, always willing to lend a helping hand, " Ambassador Haneda said. "Together let eagerly rebuild Marawi from the ground up and help Marawi rise again."
Japan and the Philippines earlier signed a 1.5 billion-yen grant (approximately US$13.98 million or about P727.05 million) on the sidelines of the 31stASEAN Summit and Related Meetings held in Manila in November last year for the procurement and importation of heavy equipment for Marawi.
This assistance in kind forms part of Japan's 2.5 billion yen Non-Project Grant Aid to the Philippines, of which the remaining 1 billion yen (about $8.9 million) is allocated for the provision of anti-terrorism equipment, such as radar systems, to the Philippine Coast Guard.
To date, 27 units of heavy equipment that include excavators, wheel loaders, motor graders, bulldozers and dump trucks worth a total of 800 million yen have been procured and turned over to the DPWH last March 15 and are now being extensively used in Marawi.
"As we respond to the most immediate needs for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi, we thank the Government of Japan for its immediate response. We are extremely grateful for the empathy and sense of urgency that made these grants possible," Dominguez said.
Besides the grant signed today and the heavy equipment aid package, Japan also agreed to provide a 1.1 billion yen funding support (about $9.8 million) to provide core shelters and livelihood training for Marawi City's residents under a UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlement Programme) project and $2 million worth of assistance to help the relief operations of the UN World Food Programme and the UN International Children's Fund in Marawi.
JICA is also currently financing a feasibility study for the construction of a Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao, which include road components in Marawi City. (DOF)