OUTGOING Japanese Ambassador to Manila Koji Haneda voiced optimism that the Philippines will make “a strong rebound” from the effects of the pandemic.
Haneda, in his farewell message, said that Japan-Philippines partnership was ramped up as the country addressed the pandemic.
He added that Japan’s contribution to the Philippines’ pandemic response does not only cover medical supplies and equipment, laboratory surveillance sites, and clinical trial cooperation for the anti-flu drug Avigan.
“We also rolled out two massive budget support loans to beef up the [Philippine] government’s Covid-19 war chest, bringing Japan’s total contribution to more than one billion [American] dollars,” he said.
“With the Philippines responding through collective action and with sure backing from Japan, I know there is no reason for this country not to make a strong rebound in the near term,” Haneda said.
The Senate on Tuesday adopted Senate Resolution (SR) 568 honoring Haneda for strengthening bilateral ties between Japan and the Philippines. Haneda presented his credentials to President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2017.
Under Haneda’s term, the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency signed over 650 billion yen’s worth of loans under 15 agreements.
The Japanese envoy also facilitated several loan and grant agreements between the two governments to fund the Duterte administration’s flagship Build, Build, Build Program.
Haneda noted that Japan has been the largest donor to the Bangsamoro region, extending a total of P26 billion since 2002.
“I hope our ongoing cooperation would be instrumental in securing lasting peace in the region,” he said. “We have boosted our efforts to help people experience the dividends of peace, and this commitment to expand our assistance stays on in accordance with the progress of the peace process.”
The envoy said he was deeply honored to receive the Peace Process Champions Award from the Philippine government in recognition of Japan’s contributions to the peace and development of Mindanao.
“But beyond the recognition, it is the ties shared by our peoples that I will miss the most. Our exchanges in tourism, culture, education, training and employment have skyrocketed in the last few years, and these transcended even in sports,” he added.
“Our two countries complement each other in such a way that one’s strength also becomes strength to the other,” he said.
“I have since been a witness to this kind of synergy, and what sets it apart is the enduring friendship between our peoples. Filipinos’ friendship is a gift that keeps on giving,” Haneda said.
The diplomat recalled that when he was appointed to the Philippines as a balikbayan ambassador three years ago, he “could have not asked for a better assignment.”
“I started my career as a junior diplomat in Manila in the early 1980s, so what better way to culminate my life’s work on a high note than here in the country I consider my second home,” Haneda said.