President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. underscored Japan's key role when it comes to infrastructure development in the Philippines as a government railroad project co-financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Asian Development Bank was signed on Friday.
Marcos witnessed the signing of the Contract Package NS-01 (CP NS-01) Electromechanical Systems and Track Works for the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) System at the Ceremonial Hall in Malacañang Palace.
The project is expected to reduce the travel time between Clark International Airport and Calamba City, Laguna, once completed.
"I certainly must have thank the government of Japan and the Japan International Cooperation Agency for the financial support in the implementation of the CP NS-01 and for being active partners in the country's infrastructure development," Marcos said in his speech.
"I can say that without fear of contradiction that the development of the Philippines, especially in terms of infrastructure, has shown that Japan has taken a very, very important part on that," he added.
The North-South Commuter Railway Extension is a flagship project under the Build, Build, Build Program, which forms part of the 147-kilometer North-South Commuter Railway System that will seamlessly connect Clark, Pampanga and Calamba, Laguna.
Marcos also said that the implementation of civil works for the CP NS-01 would also generate thousands of jobs for Filipinos during its construction.
"It will strengthen what we have seen our weaknesses in the supply chain, that have been brought about by the pandemic economy, that have been brought about by the crisis in Ukraine and that we now must attend to if we are going to be able to say that we will grow the economy, that we will make it stronger, we will make it more sustainable, and we will make it more effective at improving the lives of our countrymen," he added.
The signees of the contract include Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista and Mitsubishi Corporation Executive Vice President Koji Ota.
Bautista, for his part, guaranteed that the Mitsubishi Corporation, the winning contractor, would utilize the P110.4 billion properly to build a world-class railway line equipped with the most modern facilities.
"We expect partial operations of the Malolos to Clark airport section by the third quarter of 2026," Bautista said in a separate speech.
"Three years more, or 2029, we should see full operations of the whole NSCR with 35 stations spread across from Clark to Calamba," he added. —VAL, GMA Integrated News