THE Philippines and South Korea have formalized a document on the “Framework Arrangement Concerning Loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the Years 2022 through 2026.”
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo and Ambassador Kim In-chul officially marked late in December the framework enabling the Philippine government to obtain official development assistance (ODA) loans from its South Korean counterpart for a maximum commitment of $3 billion until 2026.
In his remarks, Manalo acknowledged the swift and steady support of South Korea in Philippine development efforts. The loan aid’s purpose and generous amount, he said, highlight the alignment of the thrust of the Korean government with Philippine socioeconomic priorities.
The secretary further acknowledged the firm foundation of trust and friendship between the two nations’ peoples.
South Korea, or the Republic of Korea, is the Philippines’s sixth-largest ODA source in 2021. It had funded efforts, such as the second phase of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Dam project worth P11.2 billion, which currently irrigates more than 31,000 hectares of land, mitigates flooding in downstream communities, and connects bulk-water supply in Iloilo; the P9.2-billion construction of a port with cargo-handling capacity on a reclaimed land to address congestion in the Cebu International Port; and the construction of a two-lane bridge across the Panguil Bay connecting Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte worth P7.4 billion.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the signing of the framework scheme paves the way for the implementation of more development-cooperation projects. The amount is three times that of the previous one between 2017 to 2022.
Major loan projects in the pipeline include, among others, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges project that would construct two 32.47-kilometer sea-crossing bridges with four-lanes connecting the said islands; one that would build a four-lane, 13.32-kilometer road traversing the coastal areas of Mandaue, Consolacion and Liloan in Cebu; the Ilocos Norte and Abra Irrigation project that would erect a 126.41-meter storage dam, a power plant to generate 42.8 megawatts of electricity, and other components for watershed management; as well as other flood-control projects under the Philippine-Korea Project Preparation Facility.
South Korea’s participation in Philippine infrastructure development, including the construction of highways, railways, ports and airports, is a vital aspect of bilateral relations between the two countries, according to the former’s embassy.
Both have committed to elevate their mutual cooperation, to include increased high-level engagements, closer maritime linkages, increased teamwork in addressing common security challenges, expanded trade and investments cooperation as well as in science and technology, and even closer people-to-people exchanges through tourism, education exchanges, and labor ties.
Image credits: DFA-OPCD/Maria Vanessa Ubac