PH, Japan finalize details of P18-billion MRT3 rehab loan

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The governments of the Philippines and Japan finally exchanged notes on the long-delayed loan agreement for the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).

An exchange of notes means the details of the project and financing arrangement have been ironed out. It comes before the actual signing of agreements.

On Wednesday, November 7, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda exchanged notes on the MRT3 rehabilitation loan deal at the Department of Foreign Affairs, witnessed by Railways Undersecretary Timothy John Batan.

"We all know that a safe and eco-friendly transport system is crucial to the Greater Manila Area and to the Philippines as a whole to realize sustainable economic growth and comfortable life for Filipinos. This is precisely where Japanese technology and expertise from years of railway experience come in," Haneda said in his speech.

Locsin promised "a better and safer commuting experience" for the riding public.

"We shall see improvements, service efficiency, security, and convenience," he added.

The signing of the loan agreement will be done on Thursday, November 8, at the Department of Finance.

Ahead of the loan deal signing, Japan's Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) already returned as maintenance provider in October. Sumitomo-MHI is the original builder of the MRT3 railway system and maintained it until 2012.

Back in August, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) approved the P22.06-billion MRT3 rehabilitation project.

It is 80% funded by the Japanese loan, while the remaining amount will be shouldered by the Philippine government.

The project includes "tracks replacement, general overhaul of trains, power supply system, overhead catenary system, CCTV system, radio and public address system, signaling system, road-rail vehicles, depot equipment, elevators and escalators, and other station building equipment."

It is expected to be completed by the 1st quarter of 2021.

Helicopter parts

The two governments also signed notes on Japan's donation of "no longer needed" UH-1H helicopter parts and maintenance equipment to the Philippine Air Force.

This was done on the basis of the Philippine government's request, to enhance the capabilities of the Philippine Air Force to carry out humanitarian activities.

"The project we signed today will mean closer partnership between our defense [agencies]. I hope we can identify and implement projects beneficial for us in the future," Haneda said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana witnessed the signing. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.