The Philippine government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed the ¥30-billion post-disaster standby loan Phase 3 in Tokyo, Japan. — REUTERS

THE PHILIPPINES and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a ¥30-billion (around P11.6-billion) loan agreement to strengthen the country’s disaster resilience.

“The loan seeks to support swift recovery after natural disasters by promoting policy actions on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) and strengthening disaster preparedness by providing quick-disbursing budget support,” the Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno and JICA Senior Vice-President Nakazawa Keiichiro signed the loan agreement on Monday in Tokyo, Japan.

The agreement covers the third phase of the post-disaster standby loan (PDSL), which would provide funds to ensure that recovery and reconstruction will be accelerated.

“JICA continues to support the Philippines in its disaster risk reduction and management efforts, and the PDSL will help boost resilience in times of disasters. We are living in the same disaster-prone countries, and we can support each other as close partners,” JICA Chief Representative Sakamoto Takema said in a separate statement.

JICA said the latest loan will also contribute to the Philippines’ efforts towards achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs), such as Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Goal 13 – Climate Action.

The Philippines received ¥50 billion under the first phase of the post-disaster loan to support the rehabilitation of areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

It also received ¥50 billion from JICA under the second phase of the loan to manage the country’s recovery from the pandemic in 2020.

According to JICA, the Philippines is the biggest recipient of the agency’s programs in Southeast Asia worth ¥418 billion in 2022.

JICA is currently supporting 28 ongoing loans in the Philippines.

Mr. Diokno said the Philippines will continue to secure concessional terms and conditions through JICA’s Special Terms for Economic Partnership.

“We are grateful for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s commitment to support the Philippines’ pursuit of the upper middle-income country status through impactful ODA and private sector investments,” said Mr. Diokno, who was part of the Philippine delegation that paid a courtesy visit to Mr. Kishida in Tokyo.

The Finance chief said both countries discussed available financing options once the Philippines achieves upper middle-income country status by 2025.

“These include new frameworks such as the ‘private capital mobilization-type’ grant that attracts investment and the ‘offer-type’ that proposes a menu of cooperation that takes advantage of Japan’s strengths,” the DoF said.

Based on the latest World Bank income classification, the Philippines is currently a lower middle-income economy, with gross national income (GNI) per capita of $3,950 in 2022.

Lower middle-income countries have a GNI per capita of $1,136-$4,465. The bracket for upper middle-income economies is set at $4,466-$13,845.

Mr. Diokno and other members of the Philippine cabinet were in Japan on Monday for the 14th Philippines-Japan High-Level Joint Committee Meeting on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson