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PHL, Japan ink P98.69B worth of loans for rail extension, river improvement projects

Officials of the Philippines and Japan on Monday signed two loan agreements cumulatively worth P98.69 billion to finance railway and flood control projects in the country.

In an emailed statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said that Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed two agreements.

The first covers an P80.47-billion loan covering the first tranche of Japan's total commitment to provide funding for the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Extension Project.

The NSCR Extension Project covers the 56-kilometer line from Manila to Calamba in Laguna that forms part of the 147-kilometer NSCR System of the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

The system is also connected to the 38-kilometer line from Manila to Malolos in Bulacan, and the 53-kilometer line from Malolos, Bulacan to Clark in Pampanga.

The loan agreement for the NSCR Extension carries an interest rate of 0.1 percent per annum for non-consulting services, and 0.01 percent per annum for consulting services.

The loan is repayable within 40 years, inclusive of a 12-year grace period.

“This is a system immune from all the heartache and exasperation with our existing commuter rail services. This is a railway system that we can be truly proud of,” said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Also signed on Monday was an P18.22-billion loan accord for the fourth phase of the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project.

This involves the implementation of channel improvement works along the stretch of the Upper Marikina River, from the Manggahan Floodway to the Marikina Bridge.

Targeted to be completed by 2027, the project also covers the construction of the Marikina Control Gate Structure and two floodgates in Cainta and Taytay, Rizal, using Japan's disaster prevention technology.

"This is, by far, the fastest loan processing time in the history of Philippines-Japan bilateral cooperation. We would like to share the credit here with our counterparties, who espoused the same sense of urgency and trusted our commitment to get these projects done," said Dominguez. — BM, GMA News