RP gov't gets USD 500 million assistance from Japan - Remonde
Manila (23 June) -- The Philippine Government was able to acquire USD 500 million worth of development assistance from the Japanese Government following the successful four-day visit of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Japan which ended Saturday, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said this morning.
Remonde said over radio station DZXL that in addition to that, there were many agreements that the President signed with the Japanese private sector during her trip to Japan, including the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
"I can assure that the President had a worthy trip to Japan because this was an official and working trip. This is not a holiday vacation. As your Press Secretary, I am so tired because of plenty of work," Remonde said who is already in Brazil with the President.
The Press Secretary was reacting to Senator Panfilo Lacson's accusation that more than P1 billion has been spent on the Presidential trip abroad wherein administration lawmakers were included in the delegation, which added up to the expensive trip.
"Senator Lacson's accusations are untrue. The President has to ask help from other countries to create trade and development opportunities as well as find labor markets for our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). She's helping us to survive and make our economy strong in the face of the global economic crisis," Remonde said.
"Senator Lacson should understand what's going on in our country and other parts of the world. Our economy is already global and the crisis is already global. That's why our President should be more active in the interest of national development," Remonde said.
"In addition, Mrs. Arroyo has opened doors for the jobless market especially for the nurses, caregivers and other Filipino professionals in Japan," Remonde added.
Remonde also cited the accord between the Philippines and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) which was signed last Friday, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the Philippine's planned issuance of up to billion worth of 'samurai' bonds.
"The agreement was signed by Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and JBIC president and CEO Hiroshi Watanabe at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo," Remonde said.
Under the MOU, JBIC would provide guarranty on USD 1 billion of samurai bonds that the Philippines will issue to finance its budget deficit and cushion the effect of the global crisis.
The yen-denominated bonds will be issued in the Japanese financial market by a foreign government or company.
Remonde also said that the President assured the first batch of Filipino nurses enrolled at the Japanese language training center here that more Filipino nurses will be sent to Japan under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
"The Filipino nurses are the first beneficiaries of the implementation of JPEPA which took effect last December. In her visit to the Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship (AOTS) Language Training Facility in Tokyo, the President congratulated the select nurses whom she called "the cream of the crop" after being sent here for the free scholarship training," Remonde said.
Of the total 93 Filipino nurses sent in Japan, 39 are undergoing training in Tokyo and 54 in Kansai. The nurses are currently training in Nihonggo, a prime requirement before being deployed in the different hospitals over there.
After their six-month training, which started last May 11, the Filipino nurses will have to take and pass the Japanese board examination before they can formally work here.
After passing the board examination, Japanese employers will provide the Filipino nurses with salaries and benefits that they accord to Japanese nationals.
There are presently 283 health workers undergoing free language training in Japan including the 93 nurses and 190 caregivers. The President said these 283 health workers are the first beneficiaries of the implementation of JPEPA, the main focus of her four-day official working visit to Japan.
More than five hundred Filipinos composed of different Filipino organizations and associations in Japan gathered together at Hotel Mariners' Court in Tokyo to warmly welcome President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who was in her third day of a workingl visit to Japan.
Aside from the advantages of Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) which will help provide important economic and trade opportunities for Philippine businesses during the period of global economic slowdown, Remonde said.
He added that President Arroyo also met with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Saturday. "We learned that Japanese Diet has already passed the law wherein Japan will open its aircraft and sea craft defense forces to other countries. In this way, not only the Japanese vessels are being protected from piracy," Remonde said.
"Even other foreign vessels, including the Philippine vessels, will be safe from the kidnappings in Somalia. This will benefit the 38,000 Filipino seafarers in Japan and other maritime workers all over the world," Remonde said.
Meanwhile, Remonde said the official Philippine delegation's trip is shouldered by the government, "If there are senators or congressmen in the travel, especially the concerned committees like Senator Miriam Defensor - Santiago because she is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."
If there is somebody who wants to tag along, then they will shoulder their own travel expenses.
The number of the official delegation is 10. "But there is also what you call company delegation of the lawmakers which is 10 to 15," Remonde said. (PIA-MMIO) [top]