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PH-Japan infra panel meet 2 hrs late as flight diverted while China’s Xi left

Wednesday’s high-level meeting between Philippine and Japanese economic officials to tackle financing for big-ticket infrastructure projects was supposed to start at 4 p.m., but the delegation from Tokyo arrived late as their flight was diverted to Clark to give way for China President Xi Jinping’s departure.

The sixth meeting of the Philippine-Japan joint committee on infrastructure development and economic cooperation in Manila started past 6 p.m., with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III welcoming the Japanese side led by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, special advisor to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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These meetings were held alternately in the Philippines and Japan, with the fifth one hosted in Tokyo last June.

Dominguez thanked the Japanese for the financing they were extending to major infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program, including the loan for the first subway system in Metro Manila.

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A check with the flights diverted to Clark this afternoon showed Philippine Airlines’ flight PR 431 from Narita airport landed at the Pampanga airport instead of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 2 at 1:50 p.m. Wednesday.

An official from the Clark airport told the Inquirer the flight eventually took off from Clark to Naia, from where the Japanese officials traveled to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

The Japanese government through aid agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as well as Manila-based but Japanese-led multilateral lender Asian Development Bank (ADB) will finance a 147-kilometer railway system that will run between Clark and Calamba, Laguna.

As the Philippines pursued closer ties with its Asian neighbors, Japan and China were offering loans and grants worth $9 billion each to partly fund the “Build, Build, Build.”

Under “Build, Build, Build,” the government plans to rollout 75 “game-changing” projects, with about half targeted to be finished within President Duterte’s term, alongside spending a total of over P8 trillion on hard and modern infrastructure until 2022 to usher in “the golden age of infrastructure.”  /kga

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