Philippines eager for swift creation of Japan's masterplan for Subic development

10, Jan. 2020

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitshu Motegi (R) in a bilateral meeting with Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during his visit to Manila on Jan. 9, 2020.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitshu Motegi (R) in a bilateral meeting with Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during his visit to Manila on Jan. 9, 2020.

MANILA, NNA – The Philippines has urged to Japan to come up quickly with the blueprint for the development of the Subic Bay area which is poised to become a strategic economic zone.

In an MOU signed between the two countries in December last year, Japan pledged to create a master plan to redevelop the former U.S. naval base located in Zambales province in Central Luzon Island.

“With the Memorandum of Cooperation for this commitment signed last month in Hakone, we look forward to Japan’s swift creation of the action plan for this project,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in his speech during his meeting with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi Thursday.

Being crafted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the blueprint is designed to maximize the economic potential of Subic Bay and its surrounding areas. Located 100 kilometers northwest of Manila Bay, the former naval base faces the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippines has been transforming former U.S. military bases in the country into economic zones. One such example is the now posh business district of Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

Manila is currently developing the former U.S. Clark Air Base located 48 miles north of Manila into an economic hub.

“Given what we have achieved in developing the Clark special economic zone, I am confident that the full development of Subic Bay will provide another important node for knowledge-based industries serving the whole of East Asia,” Dominguez said.

In its Dec. 24, 2019 statement, the Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) said the Subic master plan will also include potential projects such as road networks, logistics facilities, disaster risk management and public utilities.

Japan still remains the Philippines' top provider of official development assistance and grants worth US$8.26 billion, or 46 percent share of the country’s total ODA loan portfolio as of December 2018, according to the DOF.

The Subic Bay development plan has also attracted interest from China which is also financing infrastructure developments in the Philippines.