PH, Japan meet tackle closer cooperation on key infrastructure projects

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019   •   300

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan both agreed to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries in implementing key infrastructure projects under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said that during the high-level meeting held in Hakone last Dec. 6, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Japan’s Hiroto Izumi, special advisor to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, discussed Japan’s continued assistance for the Philippines’ infrastructure projects.

The two sides also expressed readiness to sign the JPY4.409 billion supplemental loan agreement for the Metro Manila Priority Seismic Bridge Improvement Project in the coming months.

During the meeting, the two officials signed the memorandum of cooperation (MOC) signifying the latter’s commitment to provide technical support to the Duterte administration’s formulation of a regional development master plan designed to maximize the economic potentials of the Subic Bay and its surrounding areas.

In November, the DOF said that Japan have committed to support the masterplan which includes the development of possible projects that will help boost economy in the Subic Bay area.

Japan also committed to extend additional technical assistance that are critical to the Philippines’ campaign to bridge the infrastructure financing gap.

Both sides likewise confirmed to work towards the signing of the exchange of notes and the loan agreement for a supplemental loan to finance the ongoing Davao City Bypass Construction Project (DCBCP).

The two countries also committed to speed up the formulation of the Central Mindanao Highway Project (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybalay Section), as a candidate for Japanese official development assistance (ODA).

In addition, the DOF said that Japanese officials have expressed their intention to conduct pre-feasibility studies for four of the Philippines’ priority projects: the Cebu Circumferential Road, Second San Juanico Bridge and Access Road, Central Mindanao Highway (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybay Section), and Agusan del Norte-Butuan City Logistical Highway (4th Butuan Bridge.)

Japan also reiterated its intention to provide a loan for the Cebu-Mactan Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project, as well as additional technical assistance to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Most Affected Areas (MAA) in Marawi City.

The two sides also discussed other loan financing arrangements for the Philippines as it transitions to Upper Middle-Income Country (UMIC) status ahead of schedule in 2020.

Duterte to appoint PNP OIC Gamboa as next chief

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2020

PNP Officer-In-Charge, Police Lieutenant General Archie Francisco Gamboa arrives at Police Regional Office 4A and gives reminders and guidance to deployable PNP personnel involved in the evacuation, relief, and rescue operations in Taal eruption-hit areas.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he will appoint Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa as the next police chief.

Duterte made the announcement during a speech in Davao City.

The president said he would formally designate Gamboa as the next PNP chief after they meet with Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.  

Duterte earlier asked Año to supervise the police force until he has chosen its next chief.

“We have the PNP chief. I’m going to appoint you as the regular PNP [chief]. But […] you and Secretary Año and I will have a long, long talk first,” he said addressing Gamboa in his speech.

“Pinakita mo sa akin ‘yung sincerity mo and I’d like you to leave something that you will be remembered by the country,” he added

Gamboa, who was in the event, acknowledged Duterte’s remarks by standing up and giving a salute.

Gamboa was designated as PNP OIC after former chief Oscar Albayalde stepped down in October over allegations that he protected some police officers tagged as ‘ninja cops’ for their involvement in the selling or recycling of illegal drugs seized from an operation in Pampanga in 2013.

Albayalde was the chief of Pampanga police when the operation was conducted.

In a statement, the PNP welcomed Duterte’s pronouncement of Gamboa’s appointment.

“The PNP welcomes the pronouncement of Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte to appoint PNP OIC PLTGEN. Archie Francisco Gamboa as the regular PNP Chief,” the statement read.

“Under the able leadership of PLtGen Gamboa, we assure the public that the PNP remains committed to intensify the campaign against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption, following the rule of law and with utmost respect for human rights, and vigorously pursue internal cleansing to weed the ranks of rogue cops, all towards winning back the trust and confidence of the people,” it added.

In a separate statement, Año also welcomed Gamboa’s designation as the next PNP chief.

“He is very qualified for the job. I expect that he will work harder now that he is the permanent Chief PNP and lead the organization in its intensified fight against illegal drugs, criminalities, communist terrorist groups and extremists,” Año said.

“I also expect that he would continue to cleanse the PNP ranks of scalawags,” he added.

He also called on the entire police force to support Gamboa, enforce the law and fulfill their mandate “to serve and protect the people.”

Court orders suspension of Japan nuclear reactor over safety concerns

UNTV News   •   January 17, 2020

Tokyo – A Japanese court on Friday ordered the suspension of a nuclear reactor at the Ikata plant in western Japan on safety grounds, revoking an earlier decision that had green lighted its operation.

The Hiroshima High Court said the operators of the plant Shikoku Electric and the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority underestimated the risk posed to residents by a possible eruption of the Aso volcano, located about 130 km (nearly 80 miles) from the Ikata plant, public broadcaster NHK reported.

In December 2017, the court had ordered the suspension of reactor no. 3 at the plant for the same reason, and became the first Japanese high court to question the new safety requirements implemented in the country in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

However, in September 2018, the court accepted the operator’s appeal because the risk of volcanic eruption was very low, thus allowing the company to restart operations in October of that year.

This time, the court took into account the allegations made by a group of citizens from Yamaguchi Prefecture – located adjacent to the plant – who again highlighted the risks arising from a possible eruption of Mount Aso.

Reactor no. 3 at the Ikata plant was one of the few in the country that had received permission to operate under post-Fukushima regulations, although it was temporarily shut down on account of an inspection by the operator.

Shikoku Electric said it would appeal against the court’s decision that has dealt another legal setback to the plans of the Japanese operators and the government to gradually reactivate the reactors that meet the new safety requirements.

The Fukushima disaster triggered a massive review operation of all the nuclear plants and set off new and stricter security regulations in Japan.

Tokyo estimates 20 to 22 percent of electricity in the country will be generated from atomic plants by 2030, slightly lower than the 30 percent before the 2011 tragedy, the worst nuclear accidents after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Radioactive emissions and spills from the Fukushima disaster left around 110,000 people displaced and has severely affected agriculture, livestock, and fishing in the region.

The disaster was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, leaving over 15,000 people dead and more than 3,000 others missing. EFE-EPA

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Giant Olympic rings installed in Tokyo Bay ahead of summer games

UNTV News   •   January 17, 2020

The Olympic Rings monument is installed at Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan epa08134620 A pedestrian watches the Olympic Rings monument on a vessel being installed at Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan, 17 January 2020. At Odaiba Marine Park, the Olympic aquatic events of marathon swimming and triathlon will be held. Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will open on 24 July through 09 August 2020. EPA-EFE/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

Tokyo – Giant Olympic rings have been installed on the Tokyo waterfront as a monument adding to the Japanese capital’s urban landscape and atmosphere ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the capital’s metropolitan government announced on Friday.

The steel symbol of five interlocking rings in blue, yellow, black, green and red stands about 15.3 meters high and 32.6 meters wide on a floating platform at Odaiba Marine Park, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said in a statement.

Odaiba Marine Park will be the venue for the open-water marathon swimming (10 kilometers), as well as the triathlon events.

The huge symbol features a lighting system that will be switched on for the first time on Jan. 24, a date that marks exactly six months before the start of the Tokyo Games, along with a fireworks display in the bay and other events.

After the Olympics, to be held from Jul. 24 to Aug. 9 in Tokyo, the structure will be replaced by the symbol of the Paralympic Games, which will run from Aug. 25 to Sep. 6, according to organizers.

The monument can be seen from Friday in the vicinity of the iconic Rainbow Bridge, one of the most recognizable buildings in the Tokyo Bay landscape, where most of the Olympic venues are located. EFE-EPA

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