Philippines, Japan may ink 7 bilateral deals during Marcos visit: DFA

Job Manahan and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 01 2023 11:55 AM | Updated as of Feb 01 2023 04:49 PM

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. departs for Davos, Switzerland on Sunday to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) from Jan. 16-20. Rey Baniquet, PNA
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. departs for Davos, Switzerland on Sunday to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) from Jan. 16-20. Rey Baniquet, PNA

MANILA (UPDATE)— Manila and Tokyo will sign seven bilateral agreements during President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.'s official visit to Japan next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday. 

The visit seeks to "maximize the full potential of PH-Japan strategic partnership in all its aspects and facilitate closer defense, security, political, economic, and people-to-people ties," DFA Assistant Secretary Nathanial Imperial said in a press briefing.

The deals that Japan and Philippines will sign include one on humanitarian assistance on disaster relief or HADR, he said. 

"Japan has been a very important partner providing assistance in relation to disaster relief and we certainly welcome this agreement once it is signed," Imperial said.

"The DFA considers the President’s visit to Japan as consequential. Japan is the first country with which the Philippines has forged a strategic partnership and it’s only one of two strategic partners of the Philippines, the other one being Vietnam," he said. 

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security agreement could happen in the future, but the HADR cooperation would come first. 

"It's military [who will sign the HADR]. We need a framework for that to happen on a regular basis. HADR muna (first)... but there could be discussions in the future," Imperial said. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo will lead "an exchange of notes" on some $3 billion worth of infrastructure loan agreements for the North-South Commuter Railway and its extension. This will later on be inked by the Department of Finance and its counterpart in Japan, Imperial said. 

He said Manalo would also sign an agreement on information and communications technology on behalf of DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy. 

Japan and the Philippines will formalize as well a memorandum of cooperation on agriculture, which the latter hopes will boost farm exports and "gain better access to the Japanese market," Imperial said. 

"We are already exporting a lot of agricultural products to Japan. Hopefully this visit will result to more exports of agricultural products to Japan, especially our bananas and avocados," he said. 

"Japan is the only country with which the Philippines has a bilateral free trade agreement called the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. In 2021, Japan was the Philippine’s second largest trading partner, its third largest export market and its second top source of imports," he added.

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The President will depart from Manila in the afternoon of Feb. 8.

On Feb. 9, he will meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Marcos and First Lady Liza Marcos will be given an imperial audience with Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at an unspecified date and time.

The President's official delegation will include the following:

  •  Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
  •  Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri
  •  House Speaker Martin Romualdez 
  •  Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo
  •  Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno
  •  Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual
  •  Energy Secretary Rafael Lotilla
  •  Tourism Secretary Cristina Frasco
  •  Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo Jr.
  •  Press Secretary Cheloy Garafil
  •  other Cabinet officials, undersecretaries 

A "large business delegation" comprising of at least 150 representatives from the private sector will also join Marcos in his meetings with business leaders, the DFA said.

"Round table and business meetings, business calls on the president and business seminar will be held on Feb. 9 and 10. The President will also witness the signing of several business deals," said Imperial. 

Marcos will be meeting with the chief executive officers (CEOs) of some Japanese shipping companies to advance maritime education and welfare programs for Filipino seafarers.

Before departing for Manila on Feb. 12, the President will face members of the Filipino community in Tokyo.

Philippines officials do not expect that Tokyo's request for the deportation of four Japanese nationals will be raised during the visit, said Imperial. 

Tokyo sought the deportation of four men detained in the Philippines, after Japanese police obtained arrest warrants for them for their alleged involvement in crimes targeting elderly people in Japan.
Among the four, 38-year-old Yuki Watanabe was allegedly one of the leaders of the fraud group, which stole some 3.5 billion yen (P1.4 billion) in around 2,300 cases between November 2018 and June 2020, police said.

The deportation is a "consular matter" being managed by the justice department, the Japanese embassy, and its Philippine counterpart in Tokyo, Imperial said. 

"We don’t think it will affect in any way the visit of the President and we don’t expect it to be raised during his meeting with his counterpart," he said. 

"The Philippines will follow the timeline of deportation proceedings in accordance with Philippine laws. We feel that this is totally unrelated to the visit of the Philippines," he added. 

— With a report from Kyodo News