THE PHILIPPINES is set to sign agreements with Japan for three big-ticket infrastructure projects next week on the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

The Finance department said in a statement that it is currently readying the funding requirements for the projects backed by Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA), offered during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Philippines in January.

“The Department of Finance (DoF) is working on the funding requirements for three big-ticket infrastructure projects, which include the first phase of the proposed Metro Manila Subway, in time for the possible issuance of the formal pledge by the Government of Japan or exchange of diplomatic documents during the return visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Philippines, which is scheduled to coincide with the 31st summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in November.”

The Philippines chairs the summit, with events in Manila and Clark on Nov. 13-15.

The Japan-backed projects include the $7.06-billion Metro Manila Subway-Phase I, the $197-million Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project, and the $4.27-billion Malolos-Clark Railway project — which all have already been approved by the President.

The planned 25-kilometer subway will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, which is expected to be completed by 2025. The flood management project on the other hand is planned around a 151.5 square kilometer basin, and involves the improvement of the San Juan River channel and drainage of Maalimango Creek, with works due to be completed by April 2024.

The Malolos-Clark railway meanwhile involves the construction of a 69.5-kilometer rail line.

The National Economic and Development Agency has said that the ODA terms with Japan include a 1% interest rate on the loans payable over 20 years, with a 15-year grace period.

Philippine Cabinet officials visited Tokyo in September to discuss the fast-tracking of project implementation, which included an agreement for three separate approvals from various agencies to be all approved simultaneously in one board meeting.

Other projects that the government is considering for Japanese financing are the Dalton Pass East Alignment Alternative Road Project, a Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao, the Circumferential Road 3 Missing Link Project, and the Pasig Marikina Channel Improvement Project (Phase IV). — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan