By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA (PNA) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday thanked Japan for its continued assistance, including patrol ships, to the country.
President Duterte expressed his appreciation to the Japanese people during the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), which was attended by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa at the PCG headquarters in Port Area, Manila.
”Let me start by giving our gratitude to Japanese Ambassador Ishikawa, our heartfelt thanks for giving us the ships — some are here, others are coming — and your desire to help the Philippines,” President Duterte said in his speech.
The President recognized Japan as one of the biggest contributors to the Filipino people.
”In my city alone, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) projects are abundant and it has redounded to the benefit of my countrymen over in Mindanao,” said the former Davao City mayor.
”And now that I’m the President, you continue to pour the aid that you feel you want to extend to us and again, we’d like to thank the Japanese people, your Emperor and your government,” he said.
President Duterte said the Philippines needs more ships to patrol the country’s more than 7,000 islands.
”We need the ships. If you count the number of islands of about 7,000 plus, that would count to so many great miles of coastlines. It is not enough but at least we have the ships to begin with. The old ones plus the new one that has been delivered to us, would greatly help us in this endeavor,” he said.
For his part, Ishikawa said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during his meeting with President Duterte at the Laos ASEAN Summit last Sept. 6, announced Japan’s intention to provide a new loan for the construction of larger patrol ships for the Philippines.
President Duterte is set to meet again with the Japanese Prime Minister when he visits Japan on October 25-27.
”On this occasion, the two leaders will further discuss ways to enhance friendship ranging from peace and security, fight against terrorism and economic cooperation, such as infrastructure development and people-to-people exchanges,” Ishikawa said.
”We will work together with the government of the Philippines to further deepen our strong relationship,” he added.