February 13, 2023 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan and major Japanese investor Mitsui & Co. have expressed a commitment to invest $600 million in infrastructure development in the Philippines.
“We signed an agreement with Mitsui and several parties and management to commit to invest $600 million in the infrastructure,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
Pangilinan met with President Marcos during a dinner in Japan last Wednesday. Pangilinan was among the Filipino businessmen who held meetings with Japanese investors during the President’s official visit to Japan.
Mitsui & Co., meanwhile, also eyes investments in priority sectors of the Marcos administration, particularly in agriculture, infrastructure and renewable energy, according to Malacañang.
Several investments sealed between the Philippines and Japan during Marcos’ five-day visit are “ready to go,” according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.
Marcos witnessed the signing of a total of 35 investment deals between the Philippines and Japanese government and business leaders on Friday.
“There are some that are ready to go. Some are already registered with the BOI (Board of Investments) that were documented to meet the investments,” Pascual said in an interview with Manila-based reporters on Saturday night.
Pascual said the President would be the one to announce the total amount of investment pledges secured by the government from his Japan trip.
Toyota commits P4.4 B investment
Meanwhile, Japanese carmaker Toyota has committed to invest some P4.4 billion for the production of light commercial vehicles (LCV) in the Philippines, the company’s top executive said on Saturday.
In an interview with journalists covering Marcos’ official visit to Japan, Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. president Okamoto Atsuhiro said they signed a letter of intent with the Philippine government last Friday to invest for LCV or IMV-0, also known as the Innovative International Multipurpose Vehicle-zero project.
The official also announced the return of the Tamaraw FX model, with a better and cleaner engine, in the country.
“It’s the new generation Tamaraw project, we will enter this in the IMV-0 in the near future. Of course, local production, manufacturing… in Santa Rosa (Laguna),” Okamoto said.
He said the new version of the Tamaraw FX will still have a diesel engine, but a cleaner one.
Okamoto said they are studying the possibility of modifying the power delivery of the new Tamaraw FX instead of solely relying on internal combustion engines to address concerns about clean emissions.
He added that the return of the affordable Tamaraw FX aims to support the Philippines, especially the micro, small and medium (MSME) industry.
“The current Hilux, the price position is a little bit higher, so we need to introduce more affordable commercial vehicles for MSMEs,” Okamoto said.
Asked if he expects Filipinos to patronize the new Tamaraw, he said, “the IMV-0, maybe we call that Tamaraw, is a kind of a game-changer especially for the MSMEs.”
“We will integrate service with productivity, we will provide such mobility, total mobility solutions to the customers,” Okamoto said.
The popularity of Asian utility vehicles was sparked by the Toyota Tamaraw FX in the early years of Toyota in the Philippines. The Tamaraw model was first introduced in the Philippines in the ’90s, becoming one of the most iconic vehicles in the county.
BBM trumpets $13 B pledges
President Marcos arrived yesterday from his five-day official visit to Japan, trumpeting the more than $13 billion in contributions and pledges made during his trip and expressing optimism about the future of the longstanding strategic partnership between Manila and Tokyo.
In his arrival statement delivered at the Villamor Airbase, Marcos talked about Japan’s commitment to support key Philippine projects and his engagements with Japanese business leaders that sought to highlight the economic opportunities in the Philippines.
“Coming back, we carry with us over $13 billion in contributions and pledges to benefit our people, create approximately 24,000 jobs and further solidify the foundations of our economic environment,” the President said.
Marcos recapped what he described as his “fruitful” meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, where they committed to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries. He said the Philippines and Japan have also mapped out a “transformative, future-oriented partnership that is responsive to new developments.”
“It was very clear that our strategic partnership with Japan has withstood the test of time and is poised for a new decade of mutual trust, mutual support and mutual benefit,” Marcos said.
The two countries have also cemented defense and security relations and have covered a great deal of ground in agriculture and information and communication technology cooperation, he added. Bilateral agreements that provided a framework for enhanced mutually beneficial cooperation in many areas were also signed during the visit.
Marcos also reported that Japan has committed to provide infrastructure development loans worth 377 billion yen or about $3 billion for two major projects, namely the North-South Commuter Railway for Malolos-Tutuban and the North-South Commuter Railway Project Extension.
“The completion of these projects, along with other ongoing large-scale official development assisted projects such as the Metro Manila Subway project and many more across the country are expected to translate to better lives for Filipinos through improved facilitation of the movement of people, of goods and of services,” Marcos said.
Marcos also mentioned his meetings with the chief executive officers of Japanese shipping companies and associations, noting that Japan has the second largest maritime industry in the world and employs 31,673 Filipino seafarers. Filipinos constitute 70 percent of the maritime crew of Japanese shipowners, he added.
The President and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos also had an imperial audience with Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan, where they affirmed the commitment to enhance the close friendship and cultural ties between the Filipinos and the Japanese.
Before returning to the Philippines, Marcos met with members of the Filipino community in Japan and assured them that his administration is committed to creating more jobs in the Philippines “so that working abroad will become a career choice, not the only option available to them.” – Alexis Romero